It’s not just any gorilla painted on an L-shaped retaining wall on 49th Street between Oakley Avenue and Western Boulevard.
He’s the iconic character from the Donkey Kong video game, with a twist.
“I always try to make my characters a little more illustrative and updated,” says Humboldt Park artist Megan Kind, who painted Summer. “Almost like they’ve aged a bit with us. I liked the idea of the characters playing the games”, not just “the pawn in the game”.
Kind says she “grew up” with traditional video games, be it Donkey Kong or Super Mario Bros. or Sonic the Hedgehog – must-haves for those growing up in the 1980s.
Celebrating these types of characters – the fun they represent, their connection to childhood – was the idea behind Kind’s mural and dozens of them created along the concrete wall and nearby in the frame a three-day “paint jam” in August called “64 Bit All Stars,” hosted by Chicago artists Luis “Peas” Molina and “Doer.”
“Retro games really tie into a lot of our childhood memories,” Molina says, and “64-bit” refers to some older generation gaming systems.
Of the graffiti forays he and other street artists made when he was younger, he says: “After painting Orange Line spots late into the night, being chased by police, dogs or ‘other things bumping into the night, I always remember coming home to random fast food, sit down and immediately jump into a Nintendo game.
Some of the best-known crews known for splashing graffiti art across the city were invited, as were a number of independent street artists.
“The way I set it up was to have teams doing the plays and between each play individual performers as players,” says Molina, who lives in Chicago Ridge, though there are also a few exceptions. .
Doer, who lives in Back of the Yards, says each artist decided which game to tackle and how.
With a building across the street featuring murals of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter video game characters, Molina says, “I thought it would be cool to keep the whole area under a cohesive theme.
To prepare the retaining wall for the artwork, organizers had to cover other artwork, using over 40 gallons of black paint.
Click on the map below for a selection of Chicago area murals