Throughout the Elmhurst Art Museum’s 25th year of inspiring its community, the Museum hosts a year-long celebration with a focus on the three major hallmarks of its mission: architecture (Spring), education (Summer), and art (Fall), culminating in the Fall season with the first solo museum show of Pilsen-based street artistSentrock, who seeks to uplift and empower youth through his murals and educational projects. The exhibition will feature new work by the rising artist that reveals for the first time the origin story of his distinctive Bird City Saint character, which appears in prominent murals in Chicago and other cities. Elmhurst Art Museum presents Sentrockis open September 9, 2022, to January 15, 2023. Tickets are available at elmhurstartmuseum.org.
Joseph Perez, best known as “Sentrock,” is a self-taught street artist who creates large-scale, colorful public mural works. He views street art as a gesture of compassion for his community and a powerful form of expression that encapsulates his Mexican American background, upbringing, and history. With spray can in hand, he developed his work from graffiti writing to his now highly stylized and recognized street art featuring the Bird City Saint character that wears a bird mask. He describes this signature mask as a means of an individual’s personal expression, strength, and hope.
For this exhibition, Sentrock presents a new mural in the galleries as well as animations, cut-out wood figures, paintings, and drawings that tell the narrative of the Bird City Saint character, and its origins in the artist’s biography, across numerous galleries. The exhibition will explore the importance of the Mexican American community and educational background to his ongoing practice.
Sentrock gives back to the Latinx community through various educational and mentor projects with local youth, food, and clothing drives in his neighborhood, and more. His recent projects include collaborations such as a summer youth workshop with Apple, a custom shoe design for Converse, a collaboration with the Chicago Bulls, an activation of Chicago’s Water Tower for JBL Audio, a commission for Mountain Dew NBA All-star Weekend, plus brand ambassadorships with Chicago Fire, Footlocker, and more. His murals appear throughout several neighborhoods in Chicago, and in other cities such as Detroit, Miami, New York, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.
Executive Director John McKinnon says, “On the occasion of our 25th Anniversary, we are thrilled to host the first solo museum show by Sentrock and continue our commitment to supporting exceptional artists from Chicagoland. We are excited for audiences familiar with Sentrock and his Bird City Saint character to learn of their compelling origin stories throughout our galleries, and for others not familiar to get a wonderful introduction to the rising young artist as he translates his work to museum galleries for the first time.”
Elmhurst Art Museum is committed to expanding and strengthening its relationship with Chicago’s broader western suburban community and introducing them to the most exciting regional and national artists of our time. Dedicated programming will accompany the Sentrock exhibition, including opportunities for local teens to work with the artist to create a special display at the museum. This will be the culmination of lessons designed to encourage conversations about public art, the impact murals can make on communities, collaboration, and message building. The teens’ creative and curious voices will be amplified through an examination of street art projects facilitated by museum educators. A full schedule will be announced on elmhurstartmuseum.org.