The Watch Public Street Art Sculptures: Bring Colorful Superheroes to Chicago's Pioneer Court

The Watch Public Street Art Sculptures: Bring Colorful Superheroes to Chicago's Pioneer Court

They're hard to miss, 16 brightly-colored Superheroes called "The Watch" have been installed in Pioneer Court Plaza (401 N. Michigan Avenue) --former site of the controversial Marilyn Monroe statue--as part of Chicago Ideas Week.

This time around the sculptures by Hebru Brantley, the 2013 Artist in Residence for Chicago Ideas Week (CIW), serve a duel purpose by  enlivening the space while stimulating community revitalization and national dialogue about the obstacles facing today’s youth.

Brantley created “The Watch,” in order to represent the troubles and triumphs that local students face in the Chicago neighborhoods they call home. The sculptures were inspired by conversations with students from Chicago Public High Schools who are part of the CIW YOU(th) program.

Comprised of 16 child superheroes, the goggle-wearing sculptures in “The Watch” pay homage to the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American military aviators in the United States armed forces, who fought in World War II.

Fly Boy and Fly Girl (also known as Lil’ Mama) are Brantley’s original protagonists, frequently appearing in his comic and street art-inspired paintings and sculptures as well as his official artwork created for Lollapalooza 2011.

The original works have been transformed by the goggles into bold and brave protectors on watch for danger.  Fly Boy and Fly Girl have risen above their hardships to serve as aspirational figures seeking to spawn positive changes in the urban environment.

HebruAbout the Artist

Hebru Brantley, the 2013 Artist in Residence for Chicago Ideas Week (CIW), learned how to hustle and work hard growing up on the streets of Chicago’s South Side Bronzeville neighborhood.  Brantley’s art explores personal and cultural memory, taking themes from his 1980s upbringing and characters of his own creation. His playful aesthetics, often highlight social issues while exploring the optimism and possibilities of youth. His work draws from an array of influences, including pop culture icons, comic book heroes, Japanese anime and street art pioneers Jean Michel Basquiat, Kaws and Keith Haring. Brantley has exhibited widely and has received commissions for art projects around the world.

Related events

Hebru Brantley: Mind Mapping, 
Monday, October 14, 
2 to 4p.m. 
401 North Michigan Avenue
. Grades 10-12

Explore the idea of "self" with local Chicago artist, Hebru Brantley. From cartoons to community, Warhol to Basquiat, Hebru shares his journey and personal inspirations with the CIW YOU(th) participants. Alongside Hebru's work with a variety of surfaces and media, students will explore their own unique creative processes.

Creative Process: A Method to the Madness
, Sunday, October 20
, noon to-1:30 p.m. 
Presented by Leo Burnett
 at the Edlis Neeson Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art

A discussion includes commentary from Hebru Brantley, CIW Artist in Residence; Tracy Letts, Pulitzer Prize winning writer and Tony Award-Winning Actor & Writer; Jenn Rogien, Costume Designer for HBO's "GIRLS" & Netflix's "Orange Is The New Black;" Dan Ariely, Professor at Duke University; Danny Forster, TV Host of the Science Channel's "Build It Bigger;” and Mario Batali, critically acclaimed chef and restaurateur.

Chicago Ideas Week runs October 14 through October 20. For more Chicago Ideas Week events click here.

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