The Chicago Public Art Collection includes more than 500 works of art exhibited in over 150 municipal facilities around the city, such as police stations, libraries, and CTA stations. As part of the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Public Art Program administers the Chicago Public Art Collection and implements the City’s Percent for Art Ordinance.

The Public Art Program includes exhibits along the Chicago Riverwalk pedestrian trail. In addition to the glorious views of architecturally significant skyscrapers which create an urban canyon along the Main Branch of the Chicago River, the City has permanent public art and rotating exhibits featured throughout your experience. 

Echo Hecho Fresco

Alberto Aguilar, Echo Hecho Fresco, CDOT traffic paint on wall, 2019

“After spending time on the Riverwalk I’ve come to understand it as a transient space. This zigzag pattern, which moves in multiple directions, reflects the constant movement of people through the tunnel, cars on the bridge above, boats below, as well as the river’s flow. I used Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) traffic and pedestrian paint, which in a sense makes it a mural for the people. It’s simple in design but complex in its arrangement of color value.  Applied with a 4” roller, it has an immediacy which reveals my moves and accidents. Made with a grid, it’s also regulated and measured, allowing the eye to make up for its imperfections. Now that you’ve seen it up close,I recommend viewing the mural from the opposite side of the river.”—Alberto Aguilar


Ebony G. Patterson

Ebony G. Patterson, ...between the below..., 2019. Courtesy the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery.

DCASE continues to activate and enliven the Chicago Riverwalk with a new public art commission. Known for her drawings, tapestries, videos, sculptures and installations that involve surfaces layered with flowers, glitter, lace and beads, Kingston-born multimedia artist Ebony Patterson has created a series of five intricate and colorful banners to adorn the Riverwalk on Wacker Drive just east of the Michigan Avenue Bridge, above the Chicago First Lady dockside ticket booths.

Ebony G. Patterson received a BFA from Edna Manley College in Kingston, Jamaica and an MFA from the Sam Fox College of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. She is an Associate Professor in Painting at the University of Kentucky, Lexington and is represented by Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago.

Black Tiberinus

By Robert Burnier, 2018

Site responsive installation

Steel, nylon, hardware, streamers

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.

I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln

went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy

bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

- Langston Hughes, from The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Romulus and Remus were delivered to safety by the river god Tiberinus — a primordial empathic gesture to begin a broad empire both merciful and merciless. Likewise a man called Jean Baptiste Point du Sable built here where no one, not even the ancients, had before. This maker, this trader, this go-between among first nations, traced a path soon followed by those whose names are now borne in these streets. But this river god, unlike the other, is known to us by the remnants of mundane accounting, like broken cuneiform in clay, as if it were the empirical scripture of his passing through real time. His mythification can be attached to the structure of commerce and legal maneuverings. In the same way, the abstract form might express its significance through quotidian necessity. Empirical fact, others’ dreams in concrete, are participants in an ongoing tension of emergent quality. A thing is inextricable from its other, which is an essential part of its uniqueness. All things, all structures, all histories, hidden or revealed, are like the pulses of light from a distant star that betray the orbits of its planets.

Art on theMART - View the largest digital art project in the world on The Jetty of the Chicago Riverwalk Wednesdays- Sundays. Projections begin approximately 30 minutes after sunset. View Calendar

In the spirit of Chicago’s great legacy of public art and culture, Art on theMART will be the longest-running and largest digital art projection in the world. The first-of-its-kind for Chicago, this curated series of digital artworks will be projected across 2.5 acres of theMART’s exterior river-façade.​

Riverwalk Gateway

By Ellen Lanyon, dedicated June 24, 2000

Riverwalk location - beneath the Lake Shore Drive Bridge

This trellised, cast-concrete 127 foot long walkway is designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill linking the Chicago Riverwalk with Chicago’s lakefront.  It includes 28 ceramic panels that depict the rise of Chicago and the significance of the river to the city.  There are 14 panels on each side which present a pictorial narrative of the City’s history as it is entwined to the Chicago River. 


By Carolyn Ottmers, installed September 14, 2015

Riverwalk Location- between Columbus Drive and Lake Shore Drive


The ten-foot-tall cast aluminum sculpture was created in 2004.  Allium is one sculpture in a series of three, along with Parsnip and Shepherd’s Purse, collectively called “Equilibrium.”  The trio is modeled after plants that grow in Chicago and actually clean up the soil.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

By Gary Tillery, dedicated on Veterans Day, November 11, 2005

Riverwalk Location - Between Wabash and State


One of the largest memorials in the nation outside of Washington, D.C., it includes the names of more than 2,900 Illinois servicemen killed or missing in action, an engraved timeline of historically significant events during the waterfall into a fountain, a plaque wall, and engraved granite pavers from the city’s original memorial.

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