A local artist works in the extreme heat to meet a deadline to complete a mural project in Chicago’s Chinatown.
Despite the record high temperatures and humidity, Richard Lo told NBC 5 that his work was a “labor of love”.
“The mural is for the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s for them.”
Lo has been painting for six weeks, and for two days he has been working in extreme heat.
“The weather right now with a breeze is pretty tolerable,” he said. “But I think once the sun goes past some buildings it starts to get hot and I often take breaks, water breaks. Sometimes I don’t mind painting, I don’t notice [the heat].”
The professional artist, who now lives in Naperville, moved from China to Chicago when he was young. Her father was a rising star in Chinese opera, and Lo remembers seeing her father perform on the big stage.
“I think understanding what it’s like to be a professional artist at an early stage – seeing the commitment and the excellence – I think that’s a footprint,” he said. “But there are no guarantees in life.”
He pursued a career in art, grew up in the neighborhood, and even attended high school right across from the site of the mural.
“Now from the school you can see the artwork,” he said. “I’ve always been an artist even in high school. I think my classmates are not surprised that I became a professional artist.
Lo had the special opportunity to design the huge mural by a local design firm and the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community.
“I think I used all my abilities, all my experience over the years to get to this point and I’m very happy with the result,” he said. “There is so much unknown painting on such a scale and to represent the culture as just as the accuracy of the characters and the costumes. I make sure it’s not a documentary, so there’s artistic license in some of the models, but they’re Chinese-influenced models.
The Chinese American Museum in Chicago donated the wall.
“We primed the wall, created a grid, and from the grid I was able to draw large scale,” Lo said. “So it starts with drawing and just starts coloring literally, one character at a time.”
Lo said the characters are legendary warriors from Chinese opera. Their stories have been passed down from generation to generation.
“I think recognizable images are important, but I think this is the first such mural in our Chinatown neighborhood,” he said. “I want to make sure they understand that it’s possible to make great art and beautify the neighborhood — it’s not graffiti. I think a lot of locals think we don’t want that kind of stuff on our wall, but when they see this, it confirms that we can do it well and that it represents our culture more.
He hopes the mural will bring more awareness of Chinese culture, more attention to the museum, and attract more people to the neighborhood. Lo said it was an honor to be part of a project that was a full circle moment.
“I’m okay with something representing my family’s heritage, but to represent the museum, whatever comes out of this mural that connects to the museum is very important to Chinese culture,” he said. declared.
The deadline to do everything was Wednesday. Lo said community groups are planning to hold an unveiling ceremony next week.