The heart of Chicago’s Wrigleyville is now home to a unique infusion of Chicago sport and cultural icons. Teaming up with two incredibly talented street artists — the world-renowned Hebru Brantley and graffiti/photorealism painter Max Sansing — Kris Bryant’s likeness has been created in their own style on a massive mural in Lakeview, Ill. "I mean, as young as I am, I don't know if I deserve this quite yet," the 24-year-old Bryant said, "but it's really an honor."
Photography: Tori Howard | Author: Khalil Garriottwww.redbull.com
The mural features a photorealistic image of Bryant’s face done by Sansing, which is incorporated into Brantley’s famous pop-infused contemporary art style. Bryant’s likeness is flanked by a collage of several smaller images done by Brantley, telling the story of Bryant’s life and who he is as a person.
"We're talking about an individual [who] has been able to perform certain feats, and do certain things that have made them exceptional or above and beyond the rest," Brantley said of Bryant.
Brantley and Sansing, who have known each other since they were 15, came together to collaborate for the first time in their professional careers on the unique project. Owners of the HVAC Pub, whose wall is home to the piece, initiated the idea when they began looking into using the space in a way that would show their support for Bryant's team. After learning that Bryant is a big fan of Brantley’s work, the project came to fruition.
The mural lives in a sports-mad city known for its intense rivalry on the baseball diamond. For decades, it's been the South Siders vs. the North Siders, and passionate fans make it one of the top rivalries in pro sports.
"The city is known for being very [sports]-segregated, but we all kind of convene around our sports teams, and it brings us together," Sansing said. "You see these figures and you know they’ve only gotten there not through privilege, but through hard work and dedication."
Bryant, an All-Star last year and the leading vote-getter among National League third basemen for the 2016 All-Star Game, was last year's NL Rookie of the Year. The celebrated artists aimed to immortalize him on the massive wallscape, with Sansing creating a realistic rendition of Bryant's face, while Brantley delivered his impression of the star's life story through creative expression.
After five days, the final product is a vibrant, jaw-dropping wallscape standing 50 feet tall and 60 feet wide. While seeing it for the first time, Bryant stood in awe of how lifelike the painting is.
"I saw pictures of it, and I couldn't really see the colors, but standing here, it's crazy," Bryant told RedBull.com. "I think he made me a little more jacked than I really am. I've always thought I had some artistic skills, but nothing like this."