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Caution: Wet Paint


Psychologists coined the term “perceptual vigilance” to describe the way that one starts seeing something everywhere after they first take notice of it. Well, it seems that this phenomenon has taken hold of the members of Sixty Inches From Center. Over the past month, many of us couldn’t help but notice Mental 312’s street art all over Chicago. Exiting the highway, cruising by on a CTA bus, riding the El — Mental’s art appears when we least expect it, but can hardly be ignored. His bold, characteristic lines suddenly fill our vision, demanding we take notice, even when traveling at top speed on a Metra express train. Below are two examples of Mental’s work, recently discovered by member of Sixty Inches From Center.

The first is an older piece, rendered in brown, visible from the Red Line Bryn Mawr stop. Casey Champion, a friend of SIFC, said she’d seen it for months, assuming it was just an intentional part of the building design. It was only later that she learned about the street art of Mental 312 and realized it was one of his designs.

The second piece is a much more recent, hastily rendered, orange work painted on a shuttered storefront near Cermark and Damen. While riding the 21 bus last Sunday Tempestt Hazel spotted the work out the window, turned to me, and shouted, “It’s Mental!” Getting off at the next stop, we excitedly approached the large, orange, geometric piece. The design was familiar, but the paint lines were more rushed than anything I’d seen of Mental’s before. Each bold line contained paint which had dried mid drip, as if the geometric shapes had been created as quickly as possible. The difference in quality wasn’t too surprising. Unlike his some of his other works, painted in secluded parts of the south side, this piece was done in a much busier and therefore, riskier part of town. It’s a chance I’m glad he took. Mental’s street art adds much needed color and an element of surprise to empty walls all over Chicago. We at SIFC can’t wait to see where he turns up next.

Click here for other sightings of Mental 312′s work in Chicago.

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