If you missed the recent screening of the new film Beautiful Losers at the Gene Siskel Film Center, you can always head over to Julio’s Auto Parts for a fix of a similar kind of hand-painted-sign glory.
The exterior wall of the East side of the building is covered with a quarter of a block of murals advertising the various car parts and services one can procure there. Wrapping around the front face of the building, paintings on poster board fill the front window from top to bottom, as well as on the protruding sign overhead. They pop with brightly saturated colors, heavily stylized imagery and graphically outlined forms, although their sheer volume is enough to amaze.
As for the Beautiful Losers, posthumously dubbed Mission School artists, the loose aggregate included such notables as Margaret Kilgallen, Chris Johanson and Barry McGee. Inspired by both the typography and imagery of folk, autodidact and youth culture visual representations, the beauty they found in such work lie in its humanity, human error and all. The accidental drips, peeling paint, and wonky proportions of Julio’s murals still don’t sap them of the inspirational charge that attracted artists like the Losers to stuff like them in the first place. Experience the thrill in person while appreciating the line work of larger then life sized carburetors, alternators and steering wheel locks on the Northwest corner of Diversey and Sacramento, just down the street from Mini-Dutch.
--thea liberty nichols
(all photos: thea liberty nichols)