Artist Travis Talsma used UV-reactive spray paint and layered neon coloring for his piece in the Artiopia exhibition. His work usually can be found on the sides of buildings and CTA viaducts. | Rylee Tan / Sun-Times
Artopia featuress the works of several Chicago street artists.
A short walk from the Morgan L stop is another addition to the flourishing art scene in Chicago’s West Loop.
It’s a new, popup gallery, called Artopia: The Immersive Art Experience, 401 N. Morgan St., that includes murals by Chicago street artists and other works spread through a 32,000-square-foot warehouse.
Unlike actual street art, you have to pay for admission here, $30 for kids and $40 for adults. Masks are required. A self-guided tour is about an hour long.
One mural, by Travis Talsma — who goes by T.R.A.V.I.S.T.Y. — is part of a section of the exhibition featuring a neon-glowing mushroom forest and a crashed alien spaceship.
“The whole process is to play with your imagination,” says Talsma, 29, whose work usually can be found on the sides of buildings and CTA viaducts. “It’s kind of like a haunted house.”
This mural by Keith Smith, who goes by Afrokilla, features an elephant-like creature surrounded by clouds. It’s one of several murals that make up the Artopia popup exhibition in the West Loop.
The murals in the show were painted on large plywood panels to create a sort of maze to walk through.
Another work, by Brian Keller, who goes by BRAIN KILLER, features a seven-eyed, purple “alien and demon-like” creature.
Brian Keller (left) with his son and helper Bryson (right) in front of the mural Keller created for Artopia, titled “Cosmic Soul Crusher.”
Keller, who got some help from his son Bryson, 14, was brought in by John Schroeder, the art director for the exhibition, which opened April 16. More than 6,000 tickets were quickly sold, selling out the first three dates, according to Schroeder.
John Schroeder, 30, co-creator of the Artopia popup exhibition.
Schroeder, 30, an artist himself, says he came up with the idea as a “haven for creativity” for a Chicago art community hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of us were still stagnant, idle for so long,” he says.
In addition to murals and sculpture, Artopia features responsive-light exhibits in which the colors and patterns change around you.
Megan Kind, another artist featured in the exhibition, created a mural in her signature style — figures with no mouth or nose.
A closeup of the mural by Humboldt Park artist Megan Kind that’s part of Artopia.
“I always focused on emotion portrayed through the eyes,” Kind says. “The nose and mouth can be a distraction from what’s really happening.”
Kind’s “psychedelic” piece features a gray, long-haired figure staring into the distance.
Schroeder says he hopes to keep the exhibition going till at least June, adding more art along the way.