This mosaic wall, born out of tragedy, is all about remembrance, uplift and possibility. The project is named for artist Jeff Maldonado’s late son, Jeff Jr., who was shot nearby in 2009 in a case of mistaken identity. His son was an aspiring musician. After his death, “J-Def RIP” began appearing in spray paint around Pilsen, and there was a tremendous outpouring of support for the parents, Jeff Sr. and Elizabeth. This moved Jeff Sr. to launch the J-Def Peace Project, with mural and mosaic works around the neighborhood, to provide a creative outlet for hundreds of at-risk youth and help them develop new skills and a passion for the arts. After all, it was the Pilsen mural scene of the 1970s that saved a young Maldonado from his own self-destructive path.
The late beloved artist Francisco Mendoza, whose local credits include the Cooper Dual Language Academy mosaics and 18th Street Station murals, is among those memorialized on the Pilsen "Wall of Honor."
As you explore Chicago during OHC, please wear a face covering, maintain at least six feet of distance from others and do not attempt to enter any buildings.