Folk Art That Keeps the Folks Out

The art wall at 655 West Wrightwood

 Some homes in Chicago are filled with art on the inside.  Some keep their art on the outside, and share it with the neighborhood.

One of the more unusual artistic expressions I’ve noticed in Chicgao are what I call “art walls.”  There’s probably a correct name for them, but I didn’t study art in college.  Essentially, it’s a folk art form of expression often involving hand-built walls in front of townhouses, embedded with various objects. 

In the case of this wall in front of the 1855 home at 655 West Wrightwood Avenue in Lincoln Park, it’s shells, tiles, grates, and other apparently found objects.  But in other walls I’ve seen rocks, glass, even entire faces carved out of wood or formed from concrete.

I don’t know how widespread this form of expression is, but I’ve lived in over a dozen cities, and so far have only seen it in Chicago.  Maybe this will one day be cataloged and appreciated as another of Chicgao’s unique contributions to the world of art.


Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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