In the fall of 2006, I came across Alejandro Medina working on a new mural in Pilsen. I was too much of a newbie at mural hunting to realize how cool that was. Next time I’ll hang out to watch and chat up the artist!
Recently, I was down in Pilsen and decided to stop by the mural. It is located on the side of Rancho Alegre, a carnicería at 18th and Wood, and it honors famous Latinas throughout history. After viewing so many images of Emiliano Zapata and Benito Juárez, it makes me happy to see a mural that’s all about the women.
On the left side, there are images of La Malinche, Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.
On the right, Gabriela Mistral and Frida Kahlo hang out with Dolores Huerta and Rigoberta Menchú.
And folkoric dancers twirl across the middle. (If you look closely, you’ll see that Medina hadn’t yet finished the fountain behind the dancers or the area around their feet when I first photographed this mural. Check it out!)
Medina is active in the Chicago mural scene and teaches young people through Yollocalli Arts Reach, the youth initiative of the National Museum of Mexican Art. I read a 2008 interview with Extra News in which Medina discusses his art as a way to decrease vandalism and violence in the neighborhood. He said that gang members in Pilsen had agreed not tag any of the artwork in the area. That sounds like a pretty good start.