The mural outside a North Side liquor store features flowing flowers and a soaring hummingbird, but it’s more than a commentary on nature, says artist Christian Paz.
âThe hibiscus flower is one of my favorite places on earth, Maui,â says Paz, 39, who lives in Albany Park.
the “Plumerias” are a representation of my children “- he has four children, the youngest born on December 21.” Birds of paradise are some of my favorite plants, and lilies are just decorative. “
Paz says “roses are for my mother” – a “green thumb” who “usually plants cucumbers, peppers, mint, zucchini, tomatoes and fills the rest of the garden with all the plants for sale. But one of his favorites is the Easter lily.
Paz says he came to enjoy gardening more during the pandemic. It has become an outlet for him.
Nestled in the flowers of the mural is a human heart, which he says represents love and the passage of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament which says: “For where your treasure is, there also will be your heart.”
âThe treasure is – for me – in the grace of God,â says Paz.
The Irving Park Road and Francisco Avenue mural – titled âMi Jardin,â in Spanish for âMy Garden,â completed in 2020 – also includes a small arched window that offers views of a beach, ocean, and mountain. Sun. In the yellow of the sun is a pale cross, a symbol of Christianity.
Paz, who was raised in Catholicism but considers himself a non-denominational Christian, says he is a âbeach loverâ who finds peace there and in his faith.
The bird and the flowers are “very tropical, very bright, and that has to do with my heritage,” he says.
He was born in Chicago after his parents left El Salvador shortly after the civil war that continued there in the early 1990s.
âI was really involved in art classes and after-school programs, and in my early twenties I started painting a lot of graffiti,â he says. âIn my neighborhood, I was influenced by an older group of graffiti artists. One of the most influential artists was called “Sceptic”. “
Graffiti art “has turned into murals”, which are “more open for everyone to enjoy”.
The flower-filled mural was Paz’s second at this location last year. He says he convinced the owner of the liquor store to let him do a first mural of the Chicago skyline there. He rubs shoulders with his painting of flowers and other images.
âI’ve wanted this wall forever,â he says, pointing to its location on a busy street, a prime canvas for street art. âI said, ‘I’m going to paint Chicago for you on the wall.’ This led me to paint the rest of the wall.
Paz says it took him around 40 hours in total to paint the two murals. But he hasn’t finished there.
âIt’s a work in progress,â he says. âI could add a few plants or different models to it, it’s constantly evolving. “
He also did other murals around Chicago, but is still a part-time artist, also working part-time as a runway employee at O’Hare Airport.
Paz says he finds satisfaction in creating something out of nothing – whether that’s filling an empty space with art or, along with gardening, planting seeds in a patch of land that sprout something beautiful.
âThey are parallel,â he says.