If you have seen one mural in Pilsen, it is probably the one above the laundromat at 19th and Ashland. Increíbles Las Cosas Q’ Se Ven was created by Jeff Zimmerman in 2001. My favorite translation of the title (thanks to my linguist-y friend E): Oh, The Things You’ll See.
Zimmerman trained as a graphic artist and was volunteering with Pilsen kids in the late 1990s when a priest at St. Pius V parish asked him to paint a mural of the Virgen of Guadalupe. Now he has 4 large scale murals (including this one) in the blocks surrounding St. Pius and many more scattered across Chicagoland.
Zimmerman’s work is instantly recognizable for his use of photo-realistic images of people — actual people who live and work in the surrounding area. When I’m viewing his murals, I always keep my eyes open to see if I can spot the subjects (no luck so far).
He is also known for incorporating political themes that reflect the issues of the surrounding neighborhood.
Zimmerman describes his work this way: “I always hope the murals give you something more to think about than just a bowl of fruit would. There’s always politics in what I do, and hopefully people get some kind of meaning out of it.” (Chicago Sun-Times, 8.4.07)