My garage becomes an unofficial graffiti permission wall

Here in subzero Chi-beria, I’m longing for the days of warm sun and bright art, vivid colors and salty margaritas, playing tag at the beach and sundress tan lines. So, re-posting this from July to remember all of it while I’m nestled inside wearing a lot of wool–and dreaming about what CSU Crew will do to the other side of our garage come spring…

emily en route

Last February, I met Brandon beside a huge hole in my basement floor. To be sure, I’d met him before this day of grand plumbing misfortune, but standing over a collapsed subterranean water pipe, I learned that our master plumber’s assistant was a graffiti writer, and he had another name, a pen name he used for his art, Onik. (Scroll to the end of this post for info on how the initial conversation took place.)

When I asked to see images of his work, his customary polite warmth exploded into light so bright that I offered him, on the spot, our garage door.

He’d been sneaking around a lot, painting out-of-the-way underpasses, asking convenience store owners deep on the South Side if he could paint over the dueling gang tags on the outside walls, working under the cover of night in places no one might ever see, in places he…

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