Sunday, November 3, 2019

Chicago Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe mural is almost done. No, really.

It should be done by next week.

     The Andy Warhol show is up. It opened Oct. 20 at The Art Institute of Chicago.
     The huge Warhol mural on North Michigan Avenue publicizing the show, though, is not quite up.
     Jeff Zimmerman is working as fast as he can.
     “Just a lot of moving parts,” he says. “The city, the alderman.”
     Plus: the weather. Pesky OSHA concerns. And the river of pedestrians walking directly underneath him. Care is required. 
     “Michigan Avenue is right there,” he says. “A million people walking by, and I have not dripped on anybody.” 
     Then again, Zimmerman is facing a much bigger challenge than Warhol tackled when he took a publicity still from the Monroe movie “Niagara” and silkscreened it.
     You can’t silkscreen a wall. The surface at 663 N. Michigan Ave. is 70 feet by 70 feet — nearly 5,000 square feet, a little bigger than an NBA basketball court. It’s also 150 feet in the air.  

     Working on scaffolding, Zimmerman and his team used a chalk line to create a grid of two-foot squares, a compromise between artistry and deadline.
     “The real way to do it is do it on paper. to scale, then transfer it to the wall, rather than the grid,” Zimmerman says. “Things float around on a grid. But there’s just no time. I wanted to do a one-foot grid, but we’d still be up there, snapping [chalk] lines. Something’s gotta give. That would have had us start painting in mid-November in Chicago, and even I don’t try to paint outside after mid-November in Chicago.”
     If you get the sense Zimmerman knows his way around the side of a building, you’re right. His murals have gone up across the city — from the Oak Street Beach pedestrian tunnel to along The 606 / Bloomingdale Trail. He’s been doing it for decades, unlike certain, ahem, underskilled newcomers.

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Jeff Zimmerman

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