“The opposite of a billboard.”

That’s how artist Jeff Zimmermann described his latest mural, on the wall under the Metra train bridge on the south side of Church Street.

Zimmerman has spent the past several days covering up a mural he did at the same site in 2018, with a colorful new array of faces and figures.

“I wanted diversity,” said the Chicago-area artist on Friday, “and that’s easy to find in Evanston.”

A lot of things almost jump off of the wall, including several way-more-than-life-sized faces.

“I don’t even know their names,” Zimmerman said.

He simply asks “regular, everyday people” he runs into if they would like to pose.

“It’s not famous people,” he explains.

“It’s the opposite.”

After taking a photo of a subject, Zimmermann works in his studio to basically make a wallpaper version of the picture, which he then applies to the mural.

While most of the mural is different than his 2018 artwork, there is at least one similarity — a knot.

The knot in this mural is two different colored ropes, put together.

“It’s about unity,” Zimmermann explains.

“Rope is a very humble and simple tool. This is two different entities coming together as one.”

There are other simple entities as well … fish from Lake Michigan, a buffalo, and insects. There’s also a cowboy. No one specific. Just an iconic American figure.

As with his 2018 effort, the latest mural is financed by several Evanston arts organizations, including Art Encounter, which has a specific mural program.

Zimmermann has painted murals around the country, and has been written up in the New York Times, and featured on NBC’s “Today” show.

The artist stresses that this latest mural is “not a linear narrative.”

Each person, animal, or item can be taken on its own, and can also impact a viewer differently than it did the person who created them.

For example, at the east end of the wall, there is a face, an orange life ring, and a large white and gray object.

What does the last object on the left end of the mural look like to you?

When Zimmermann asked me what I thought the large object was, I replied “a flint arrowhead.” Pretty good guess, right?

Actually, Zimmermann explained, it’s an iceberg. Look closely and you can see the water line, with part of the iceberg above it, and most, as with real icebergs, underneath.

Zimmermann’s 2018 mural had, among other things, a hot dog, and also a set of large headphones, just right for standing in front of and taking a selfie.

Being out in Evanston’s rain and snow, most murals will lose some of their luster over time.

But with the new mural, the wall is “now bright and clean.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Leave a comment

The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.