Before he launched his Off White streetwear brand, became Kanye West's creative director and an artistic director at high-end fashion house Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh was just another creative person trying to launch his career in Chicago. Abloh passed away at the age of 41 in November after fighting a private battle with cancer, but he left behind a towering legacy in the city where he received a degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology. From the Bucktown retail store RSVP Gallery (which he founded in 2009 with fellow designer Don C.) to the East Garfield Park basketball court that he teamed up with Nike to renovate in 2020, Abloh will forever be a part of Chicago.
Finding a way to commemorate an artist, fashion designer and DJ as accomplished as Abloh is no simple task, but B_Line Projects chief curator and director Levar Hoard was up to the task. Hoard has overseen the Hubbard Street Mural Gallery in Fulton Market since 2017, breathing new life into a public art project that began in 1971. Hoard began curating murals inside of Time Out Market Chicago when the food hall reopened to the public in June 2021, helping artists DOT and World Wide Zeb fill a couple of blank stairwell walls with vibrant art—and his next project will pay tribute to Abloh, who he describes as a "role model" who "brought elements of street art and graffiti with him each step of the way."
Hoard has tapped local street artist Rahmaan Statik to create a mural dedicated to Abloh at Time Out Market Chicago, taking over both of the walls on the food hall's west stairwell. Known for his vivid, multi-colored murals of MF Doom, Gwendolyn Brooks and J Dilla, Rahmaan got his start in the ’90s as a graffiti artist, learning the intricate wildstyle and Rammellzee graffiti styles that informed some of Abloh's work (and will be depicted in Rahmaan's mural).
"It's going to be a museum piece that shows the types of graffiti and street art that Virgil himself drew inspiration from, it's going to show the type of street art that made its way into designs for Off-White and Louis Vuitton," Hoard says. "[Rahmaan] is someone who was arrested for graffiti, but now he's one of Chicago's best artists and he's able to [draw] inspiration from graffiti."
Entitled "Virgil Forever," the tribute mural will officially be unveiled at Time Out Market Chicago on Saturday, February 12 at 6:30pm. Following the unveiling, Hoard and Time Out Chicago editor Zach Long will moderate a panel discussion at 7pm, joined by mural artist Rahmaan Statik as well as a trio of multidisciplinary artists who were mentored by Abloh as part of a program presented by NikeLab Chicago: Larry Tchogninou, James Langford and Samantha Smyser-De Leon. Following the panel, DJ Mike Slugs (who is also the artist behind the Frankie Knuckle mural near Fulton Market) will spin, beginning at 8pm, while Tchogninou and Langford show off work from their nautical-inspired design agency Points of Sail.
Can't make it to the unveiling and want to pay tribute to Abloh when you visit Time Out Market? Throughout Black History Month, the Time Out Market Bar will offer a "Virgil Forever" cocktail—a riff on a gin and tonic that combines Glendaloigh rose gin, Combier Le Bleu, pamplemousse rose, lemon juice, kiwi and tonic. Throughout February, $1 from each drink sold will be donated to the Virgil Abloh™ Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund, which grants scholarships in an effort to foster equity and inclusion within the fashion industry.