CHICAGO — Cirque du Soleil announces a partnership with Columbia College Chicago and the Wabash Arts Corridor (WAC) that will add a new public mural downtown in honor of the city’s Year of Public Art. Local artist Gloria “Gloe” Talamantes is creating the mural, commissioned by Cirque du Soleil and inspired by its highly acclaimed production LUZIA, currently playing a limited engagement in Chicago through Sept. 3.
The Cirque du Soleil-commissioned mural is an addition to WAC’s 40+ murals in the South Loop neighborhood. It will also kick off this year’s public art exhibition Street Level, which will unveil eight new murals that will be presented at street level and highlight a diverse range of artists at the local, national, and international level.
In a free public event Thursday, August 24 at 2:30 p.m. at the intersection of Congress Parkway and Holden Court, the final mural will be unveiled on the western façade of Columbia’s 33 E. Congress Parkway. The event will include LUZIA artists and remarks from Talamantes, DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly, Columbia College Chicago and WAC.
“We are happy to give this artistic gift to Chicago for its Year of Public Art,” said Claudine Rivard, Company Manager of Cirque du Soleil’s LUZIA. “This is a way for Cirque du Soleil to thank the city and its residents for all of their support, not just for LUZIA, but for embracing our artists and crews for over 17 productions across 28 years.”
Having started as a troupe of street performance artists 33 years ago, Cirque du Soleil is always looking for ways to give back to the local communities it visits, either through its social action programs or through art. The LUZIA mural project in partnership with WAC and Talamantes will permanently add the signature joy and color of Cirque du Soleil to Chicago’s greatest concentration of street art.
“Chicago is one of the top destinations in the world for public art,” said DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly. “It is fitting that acclaimed international arts organization Cirque du Soleil has commissioned one of Chicago’s own artists for the Year of Public Art. This new mural brings additional vibrancy to the growing Wabash Arts Corridor.”
“Chicago’s dedication to public art is deeply rooted in the city’s history,” said Neysa Page-Lieberman, WAC’s Chief Curator and the Executive Director of Columbia’s Department of Exhibitions and Performance Spaces. “Columbia and WAC continue the tradition each year in producing, supporting, and engaging Chicagoans and visitors with vital arts and programming. The scope of Chicago’s public art will flourish from the recognition and support by the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil.”
About the mural
Artist Gloria “Gloe” Talamantes’ style of work suits the project perfectly, and in creating the mural, she combines inspiration from LUZIA with her Mexican heritage.
“I created wispy butterfly wings that carry flowers adorned with motifs inspired by my roots and culture,” said Talamantes. “The design inspiration comes from my family heirlooms, carpetas tejidas, the delicate and intricate original crocheted designs of my grandmother and great grandmother. After watching some of LUZIA, I reflected on the massive red papel picado that was used in one of the scenes; it immediately made me think of the many designs that make up my grandma’s doilies.”
The dripping effect at the bottom of the mural is a direct reflection of the water scenes in LUZIA, the first Cirque du Soleil show to incorporate water into artistic and acrobatic scenes.
“I wanted to create a subtle resemblance to the water while keeping it connected to my graffiti roots,” said Talamantes. “Drips are common and often the most enjoyable parts of ink tags and natural spray paint abstracts when doing stylized letters. It is important for me to stay true to my Mexican and Graffiti culture, for the two have been an integral part of my life and visual art.”
About LUZIA by Cirque du Soleil
LUZIA takes you to an imaginary Mexico, like in a waking dream, where light (“luz” in Spanish) quenches the spirit and rain (“lluvia”) soothes the soul. In a series of grand visual surprises and breathtaking acrobatic performances, LUZIA invites audiences to escape on a surrealistic journey through a sumptuous and vibrant world suspended somewhere between dreams and reality. Smoothly passing from an old movie set to the ocean to a smoky dance hall or an arid desert, LUZIA cleverly brings to the stage multiple places, faces and sounds of Mexico taken from both tradition and modernity. Rich in awe-inspiring moments, LUZIA enchants by incorporating rain into acrobatic and artistic scenes – a first for a Cirque du Soleil touring production.
LUZIA is Cirque du Soleil’s 38th original production since 1984, and its 17th show presented under the Big Top. The company has brought wonder and delight to more than 160 million spectators in more than 400 cities on six continents. Cirque du Soleil has close to 4,000 employees, including 1,300 performing artists from close to 50 different countries.
LUZIA is now playing in Chicago through Sept. 3, 2017, under the Big Top in the United Center parking lot. For show and ticket information, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/luzia.
About Columbia College Chicago and the Wabash Arts Corridor
The Wabash Arts Corridor was launched by Columbia College Chicago in 2013 to transform the college’s campus and community into a destination neighborhood to live, work, study and visit. Since its inception, WAC has installed more than 40 large-scale murals by local and internationally-renowned street artists, creating one of the most significant collections of public art in the city. For more information about Columbia College Chicago and Wabash Arts Corridor, visit www.colum.edu or www.wabashartscorridor.org.
About the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.
For more information on the Year of Public Art, visit www.cityofchicago.org/yopa and join the conversation on Facebook (Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events), Twitter and Instagram, @ChicagoDCASE #2017isYOPA #ChiPublicArt.