Tyrue “Slang” Jones became “obsessed” with painting birds as a child because he would always see them in the art books his mother got.
Since then, the West Humboldt Park artist has created bird art.
Most recent: a graffiti-style “Birds of Concern” mural at 1901 Central St. In Evanston showing three weak birds found in Illinois: the red-headed woodpecker, the American kestrel, and the blackburn bird.
Lea Pinsky, who, as executive director of Evanston, Art Encounter, helped oversee the mural project, says the work is not only “beautiful and wonderful” but “it also has a purpose for the community and builds awareness around a really important issue.”
The bird population has decreased as a result of pollution, habitat destruction and climate change.
Jones, 51, says he has been influenced by different artistic styles. For Evanston’s mural, he’s back to one he knows best – graffiti art. This effect can be seen in exaggerated vines and branches.
In the center of the piece is an adult male American bird, which can be seen year-round in Illinois and is easily identifiable by the signature of a pair of black slashes on its face.
The mural also depicts the bright yellow, an adult male Blackburnian bird, which migrates through Illinois to breed in southern Canada, and the red-headed woodpecker – another Illinois resident who is the most threatened of the three, as a result of habitat loss.
The mural—which illuminates the works’ exterior and is nearly 15 feet high—is the result of a collaboration between Art Encounter and Evanston North Shore Bird Club.
“We wanted it to be a mixture of art and science,” says Libby Hill, who leads the bird group.
says Pinsky, who also helped put together Rogers Park Miles of murals Another project included birds among its subjects and Jones among the artists.
“It beautifies the environment and brightens their day, but it also makes them think a little more about the world they live in and maybe take action.”