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The CPAG Watch List 

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The Chicago Public Art Group's list of endangered classics changes frequently. Some murals drop from the list after they've been restored, while others disappear due to demolitions and rehabilitations. For now, CPAG hopes to get enough money to restore the following:

All of Mankind by William Walker, 617 W. Evergreen. Painted in 1971-'73 at the Strangers Home Missionary Baptist Church, the mural may be threatened by the ongoing redevelopment of Cabrini-Green.

Wall of Daydreaming / Man's Inhumanity to Man by Walker, Mitchell Caton, and Santi Isrowuthakul, 47th and Calumet. This 1975 mural depicts the dangers of the underground economy in a once-thriving black neighborhood; it also indicts racism and critiques government policies that exacerbate poverty. The work is in fairly good shape, but it may not fit into Alderman Dorothy Tillman's planned Tobacco Road blues district.

A Time to Unite by Caton, Calvin Jones, and Justine DeVan, 40th and Drexel. The city plans to work on the old railroad embankment upon which this mural was painted in 1976. It will likely be destroyed.

Black Women Emerging, by DeVan, 40th and Cottage Grove. This faded 1977 mural exhorts women to express their talents in a variety of vocations. It's among the first works picked by CPAG to restore.

Builders of the Cultural Present by Caton and Jones, 71st and Jeffery. Restoration of this 1981 mural honoring black artists is slated to begin this month.

Roots and Wings by Caryl Yasko and Lucyna Radycki, 3543 W. 63rd St. This 1976 mural is said to be the first outdoor work in the nation to combine paint and cast concrete. The concrete looks great, but the painting is bleached out.

Justice Speaks: Delbert Tibbs--New Trial or Freedom by Walker, 57th and Lake Park. When Walker painted this wall in 1977, black Chicagoan Delbert Tibbs was awaiting a retrial in Florida after being found guilty of raping a white woman and murdering her husband. The charges were eventually dropped. But in a 1991 interview for the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art, Walker told mural historian Victor Sorell that it was never his intention to advocate for Tibbs's release: "I did it because I thought it was a fair decision on the part of the Supreme Court of Florida, who said that there had to be more or better evidence. I thought that in itself was worthy of attention." Metra is rehabilitating the wall this summer, which will surely destroy the mural. Yet there's talk about re-creating the work in the new commuter station.

Breaking the Chains by John Pitman Weber, 1458 N. Rockwell. This 1971 mural has brown, black, and white hands breaking the bonds that enslave a neighborhood. A reference to arson was particularly apt for Humboldt Park.

Tilt: Together Protect the Community by Weber, 2654 W. Fullerton. Prospects look good for this faded 1976 mural. But stay tuned. --J.H.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Nathan Mandell.

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