I mentioned before that Jeff Zimmerman is best known for his large scale, photo-realistic murals. I’ve decided, however, that I actually prefer his (relatively) smaller pieces . One of my longtime favorites is Sírvales which he painted in 2005 at Cullerton and Ashland for St. Pius V church. I really like the motion and light in the water.
Recently, I stumbled upon Zimmerman’s 1999 It’s All Knew at Carroll and Ashland. The faces — human and canine — bring life to an otherwise nondescript warehouse area.
But my biggest Zimmerman surprise was finding this mural he painted at 21st and Blue Island in 1996:
Educación: See y Know is the oldest of his work that I’ve viewed. I like the glimpse into his early style with its smaller scale and less photographic style.
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)