Graffiti art team’s artistic explosion brings superhero imagery to Chicago’s West Side


The bombs make “KABOOM”.

But artistic blasts become “CABOOM” – with CAB, a pioneering graffiti team that has been in Chicago for decades, and BOOM is what happens when band members descend into a space and collaborate on a public artwork. dazzling.

Like across from Marshall High School on the West Side, where artists from or affiliated with CAB painted a sprawling mural in 2019 on the side of a three-story building on Kedzie and Fifth avenues with not just the word “CABOOM,” but intricate superhero images in the letters.

There are Captain American and Hulk, Ironman and Black Panther, Thor and Rocket Raccoon.

Part of the mural on Kedzie and Fifth avenues, produced in 2019 by the CAB graffiti team.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

The project aimed to bring the team together, as members often work solo and showcase their collective artistic skills. But the intention was also to bring color and inspiration to the neighborhood – and to the young people.

“We wanted to give the kids something to have fun,” says the 42-year-old graffiti artist who is called Werm and lives in West Lawn.

He painted the “C” and “M” of the mural, as well as Captain America and Thor, both of whom are part of the ever popular Marvel Comics universe.

Werm says the team has done several CABOOM paintings in recent years, but this is “the only one still in place” and intact.

The other half of the West Side Mural, located across from Marshall High School.

The other half of the West Side Mural, located across from Marshall High School.
Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

HateK 312, who is part of CAB and painted the first “O” and Ironman, says doing this kind of art in “underrepresented neighborhoods” helps show young residents that there are creative outlets.

“I’d rather a kid pick up spray paint than a gun,” he says. “We like to give kids another option, letting them know there is another option. “

Painting right in front of Marshall “was a plus,” says HateK.

But the group were very lucky in the location, as a CAB member passing by DTeK says he knew someone from the building and got permission to paint on the wide open wall, which faces the ‘Where is.

“It’s a good thing for the kids,” says DTeK, who is 37 and lives in Cicero. As the crew painted, “all the kids were at the windows” Marshall watched.

The street artist passing by DTeK, shown in front of the mural he helped make in 2019.

The street artist passing by DTeK, shown in front of the mural he helped make in 2019.

Too many children in Chicago “grow up so badly” and “don’t know what they want to be in life,” he says.

Such murals, hopefully, make them realize that “you can do anything,” says DTeK. And the hero theme shows “the heroes are here”.

He painted the “A” and Rocket Raccoon, which Marvel describes on its website as “a more or less heroic figure” who “has acquired a fairly long list of enemies, as one spends most of his career at. thwart galactic takeover attempts.

“We’re all pretty good on our team, we don’t hang around a lot, but when we do. . . we’re just transforming, ”says DTeK.

HateK, who is in his thirties and lives in Little Village, chose Ironman for “its style, its aesthetics” and the artist likes “that it is technologically advanced”.

His goal was to “make the kids go, ‘Wow'”.

The 36-year-old street artist known as Mr. Laylo painted the “B” and the giant character Hulk green.

“The theme was the Avengers superheroes, and we got together and randomly picked who we wanted to do, Werm already had Captain America, and I had a big ‘B’ to fill out, that was pretty cool.” , said Laylo. , who grew up in Chicago and Cicero, but recently moved to Canada. “Overall, the process took a little over two weeks. . . everything is spray paint.

The artist who goes by GNEE painted the second “O” as well as Black Panther, which he described as “definitely one of my favorites”.

Another painting

Another painting “CABOOM” – done by the CAB graffiti art team on the north side in 2019. It has since been repainted.

GNEE, who is 47, lives in Englewood and describes himself as “affiliated” with CAB, says he loved Marshall’s kids watching the mural come to life.

“It’s always cool for people to see live art happening. . . they think it’s magic, but it takes a lot of work, ”he says.


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