Top Street Art of October

By Fruzsina Eordogh

October was just as fruitful for street art as was September. Street artists are not immune to the cold weather, and the escalating scramble leaves me eager to see November’s work. October saw more political work by street artists than I can recall, most likely due to their arch-nemesis  announcing his retirement. Some artists went with Halloween themed graffiti like Snacki’s piece (see below), this mummy zombie thing, or this Breakfast at Tiffany’s zombie …. which looks like a Threadless Tee.

Banksy’s “You Concrete Me” piece has been covered up (detail of original here).   “You Concrete Me” on first glance looks like a Banksy letdown, until you realize Banksy was using the local aesthetic in his piece. The ridge in the exposed concrete looks like a mouth,  the use of chalk, and the light-hearted sentiment, is  an unusual piece for the usually serious and satirical Banksy.    “You Concrete Me” was no hit with the street art community however, and was covered up by a vandal almost immediately (vandal also added “Banksy Sucks”).   Street artists being jealous is no new thing,  with Poor Kid being a target of strike-outs last month.

More Anonymous Epidemic stickers popped up in October, this time featuring Chewbacca with different barbers (demon barber here), and the large “radioactive kittens” by an unknown artist have multiplied.  The “I Eat Food” person continues to remind us that s/he eats food,  while another unknown artist stenciled “Get Real” in the shape of a heart. A rash of Brian Bosworth stickers have appeared downtown, as has Portal stencils, and more stikman figures were spotted in the city.

Before I get to the list (which was very difficult to order, more so than usual), I would first like to mention a couple of “taggers”. I in no way see what they do to the city as “art” in the traditional sense of the word, but I do understand their desire to express themselves in the way that they do. So, hello to herts (nice water tower). Humorous name, noteef, and great psycho kool aid man. I see you, MO. Thief, you are every where I look. Amuse, great lettering here, nice water tower, and this is gorgeous and should be my number 10.

The list:

10. cyro

Cyro is this month’s “artist that doesn’t belong on this list” because of no new work, but I include cyro because I would like to see more work.

flickr photo by theres no way home

cyro is versatile to the point where his/her  work looks like  different artists. Besides creating stickers of gender-mixes, cyro is know for the all-thumbs character. Here is a cyro paste-up, and here is a board collaboration with nacho (another collaboration, this time with Swiv, can be seen here). It appears as though cyro began his/her street art endeavor in the summer of 2006. A somewhat extensive flickr search shows  the first “all thumbs” character and  cyro’s first board appearing in 2007,  and the men with lady faces began appearing in 2008.  Other notable cyros: drawing on a baby’s face, an installation from 2008,  a rather large collab with nacho from 2008, and this  collab with Bonus. Where are you, Bonus?

cryo is one of those street artists that easily stay up for months, somehow.  Newcity named cyro one of 2006’s best street artists.

9. Love Flows Both Ways, The Hot Box Mobile Galleria

Number nine is reserved for all the artists participating in the fabulous Maxwell Colette Gallery and Chicago Urban Arts Society exhibit titled “Love Flows Both Ways“, running until December, and to everyone involved in the Hot Box Mobile Galleria.

The Corner Store!

flickr photo by Joey D. More photos from the mobile galleria event can be found here.

8. nautilus and confirm

These two artists have been appearing next to each other over the past couple of months.


Nautilus pasteup (Too much soup)

flickr photos by G_X_M

Nautilus’ other work of October is dark.  Nautilus is also responsible for the fake grain of rice website paste-ups. Confirm began stenciling this summer.

Alley on West Kinzie (CONFIRM)

flickr photo by G_X_M

7.  CLS, klepto



CLS (Halsted Street)

flickr photo by G_X_M

6.  the grocer, Swiv

Both iconic artists are veterans of the street art scene.

the grocer:

Cut Watermelon (context)

It looks as though the grocer’s recent mention in the Huffington Post got him/her all fired up, as s/he is back on the streets once more. Other new the grocer pieces can be seen here and here.


Swiv is in a political fever! “Swiv for Mayor” paste-ups have gone up all over the city, including over CRO’s golfing Daley. The below photo, taken by flickr user pasco33 features a collaboration with Nice One.
swiv & nice one

5. Brooks Golden and Hebru Brantley collaboration:

photo courtesy of Nicolette Caldwell

4. don’t fret
Wicker Park Street Art

photo by flickr user the extinction blues. Detailed shot of the collar work here, detailed shot of the hair curl here.

don’t fret was busy this month, but not quite like last month (see new works of an egghead, a conquistador fellow, and a blonde male) .  don’t fret has also jumped on the political bandwagon with his King Daley paste-ups.

3. Party Patrol, saying hi to goons…
party patrol

Flickr photo by pasco33

I am very intrigued by Party Patrol, and not just because this person is exposing their genitalia on the street while wearing a mask. I have yet to see the above photo in person, but I see another Party Patrol piece following this new formula every time I take the train (sometimes I wonder if that piece was left for me….).    Past Party Patrols include a woman with a frying pan titled Toasty Toots, Sir Line Backer, and people partying outrageously, naturally, but this new photographic shift in his work happened this summer.

2. snacki
kids who trick-or-treat
snacki has been a roll lately,  alluding to Van Gogh and making neon faces a delight. Besides his traditional groggy faces, snacki has taken to a more structured form with the incorporation of other types of paint.  Check out this cityscape, this indoor mural (be sure to watch the timelapse), and this treescape on a garage titled “Grow More” (also with a timelapse).   Another recent timelapse of snacki collabing with dkal, roger, noteef and stal can be viewed here.

1. CRO’s Rahm in the doghouse


Flickr photo by G_X_M

With yesterday’s elections and the current political climate, I would be amiss to give the number one spot to anyone other than CRO. Here is CRO’s Daley Golfing stencil (another one colored in), and here is CRO’s take on Republicans and Democrats.

Comments (5)

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  1. spudart says:

    Oh wow @FruzsE! You do a monthly public art series. This is fantastic. I need to learn more about Chicago’s guerrilla public art, like in the sense of developing a vocabulary about it and knowing who does what. This will be good inspiration for me as an artist. Thank you. Please keep up this monthly series.

  2. FruzsE says:

    Thanks kindly @spudart! Be sure to check out Sept, Aug, July for more artists and vocabulary…. I try to write these in friendly layman terms :)

  3. David says:

    This is an interesting idea, and I enjoy the attention that you are bringing to a Chicago street art and graffiti scene that has long been either chastised by the city or blasted into non existence by the graf busters. But I have to say that I do have some problems with your format. First of all, do not be naive enough to think that the CPD and the graf busters are not searching your website, along with several of the other websites devouted to Chicago graf. By posting comments about certain individuals activities on a monthly basis I think I understand that you are trying merely to document and comment. However what I don’t think you realize is you are simultaneously giving prosecutor’s ammo and time frame in the event that they ever decided to persue action against any of the artist’s you are writing about. I would perhaps suggest a bit of discretion. Not to mention your comments last month…

    “I like to think I am partially responsible for the proliferation, but I know there are greater forces at work besides my delusions of grandeur, forces much more mundane – like the coming cold weather.”

    let’s get something straight here, people have been tagging and putting up street art in chicago for way longer than 3 months ago when you started “”top 10’ing” it.” now i’m not trying to put you or your blog down, because ultimately i do believe it is a good thing. but, i profoundly disagree that all of sudden dozens of chicago artists who go out of their way to be underground and out of the spotlight suddenly are creating more and more work because their biggest concern is making a top 10 list on some blog.

    furthermore, i kind of disagree with the format of a “top 10″ in it of itself. i’m all for you laying out the best work this city has to offer. that’s great, and the artist’s deserve the recognition. but the act of saying that one piece is better than another troubles me because we are talking about dozens of different people doing dozens of different things. if you want to declare someone a winner then join up with chicago art loop. they clearly did a really great job with their art chicago open.

    once again, i am at the end of the day a frequent viewer and i do enjoy what i believe to be in your heart is an honest attempt to bring focus on what is a great part of chicago’s art community. i just hope that you do it in a manner that is ultimately respectful.

    thank you.

  4. Kathryn Born says:

    Well… as editor…, as I tell people who are new to visual art, “You can’t win with these people, no matter what you do, they’ll complain”. And I think this fits pretty squarely in this category.

    We did a series on apartment galleries and people came out of the woodwork to say, “stop outing us”. And I then agreed that, upon request, I would take any apartment gallery off chicagoartmap.com and promise to never mention them on the site again.

    I assure you, no one took me up on the offer, and the press releases come in a steady stream. And I have street artists who pitch me directly.

    Last, I don’t think Street Art is undeground at all. It’s very much where the art students are putting up their work. As Tristan said, “Your rap sheet works better than your CV” for getting representation.

    So… try not to wring your hands too much over this. Things work out.

    Also, Fruzsina is damn close to this whole scene, and she does have some telegraph communication with some of these artists – through these pieces, and the artists reading this blog and responding.

    Try not to worry.

  5. FruzsE says:

    David, thank you for your thoughtful reply (and thank you Kathryn, for your support), and your desire to engage in conversation.

    your first point:
    Yes, I am aware of the CPD and Graffiti blasters wasting time, money, and energy on prosecuting street artists. Hopefully this will change, considering the city can’t afford to keep graffiti blasters as it is. CPD scouring the internet, and subsequently prosecuting and arresting street artists is a waste of city resources and taxpayer money. Now that Daley is leaving, I only hope the new Mayor rescinds some of his mandates. The graffiti blasters states: “Graffiti is vandalism, it scars the community, hurts property values and diminishes our quality of life” …but points 2 – 4 do not apply to street art. For instance, street art actually increases property value (the most well-known example being Banksy) and greatly improves my quality of life.

    point two:
    The time frame I provide is on a monthly basis, and I try not to give away locations. I have removed the color of the el line when discussing party patrol. But see point one.

    point three:
    Yah, obviously?! I use the word “delusion” for a reason…. this monthly column is somewhat haughty because I play a “street art critic”, and critics in general are supposed to be haughty? I have big opinions! Read me? (The nerd in me wants to say you are butt hurt, but over what, I don’t know yet…)

    point four:
    the top 10 list is an internet gimmick. Everyone loves lists. Top 10 lists? Even better! Lists with pictures? oh-my-god-yes absorbing information so fast!

    If anything, the order in which I reveal the street artists is more important than their actual number (sometimes it’s for “props” too).

    If you are a street art fan too you know I have more than the above stated reasons for showing CRO’s work last/ as my number one (and even why I use “CRO” instead of…), considering I said at the C33 panel I find stencil street art to be lazier when compared to say, paste-ups.

    I think you are being sarcastic over the art loop open, so I am going to agree with you and say “yeah, it was ridiculous”. Chicago is known for its corruption, so why’d you think its art scene would be any different?

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