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Artist freely parking Monopoly pieces on Logan Square sidewalks

An anoynomous artist has been placing 'Monopoly' style game pieces around Logan Square neighborhood Chicago.  This is located off

An anoynomous artist has been placing "Monopoly" style game pieces around the Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago. This is located off the boulevard and Schubert street. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: August 28, 2012 6:21AM

Heads up! Or when you’re walking around Logan Square, maybe keep your head down.

Over the last couple of months an anonymous artist has installed large pairs of dice and oversized Monopoly cards along the sidewalks of Logan Square. One Community Chest card reads, “You have won first prize in a hipster mustache [sic] contest. Move to Wicker Park.”

It was installed in front of the very hip Longman & Eagle restaurant and bar, 2657 N. Kedzie.

The board piece is signed “bored.”

One of the more recent installations took place in the wee hours between last Saturday night and Sunday morning in front of the Wolfbait boutique, 3131 W. Logan Blvd.

A vintage red touch-tone phone is embedded on a circle of blue plywood. Pedestrians cannot dial out, but they can pick up the phone to hear a loop of the 1993 Tag Team hit “Whoomp! (There It Is).”

A phone number is scrawled on the piece. When the number is called, listeners hear a recording of a “bored” voice devoid of any whoomp. (Messages left on the phone were not returned.)

The whimsical pieces are an interesting exercise for an increasingly plugged-in world of iPods and iPads. They make you more aware of your environment.

Slow down and take a chance.

“Some of this sprouts up overnight,” said Paul Czarnowski, general manager of G-Mart Comics, 2641 N. Kedzie. “It does make you look around. I saw a new restaurant on Logan Boulevard the other day, and again, it was ‘Where did this come from?’ ”

G-Mart has operated from its current location for five years. Its red, white and black print of mayor “Zomb Emanuel” near the window is also popular with non-catatonic pedestrians. The print was done by an anonymous artist.

“We love local artists,” said Czarnowski, 36. “We don’t know who the street artist is. We’d love to meet him or her. It’s not graffiti on my back door, and that’s great.”

There are several “bored” pieces in the Logan Square area, and they are always changing. The Chance card reading, “Carissa, Will You Marry Me? (If Yes, Advance One Block South to Nearest Church),” near Lula Cafe, 2537 N. Kedzie, is gone. No word if the couple is living on Park Place.

“This is something that captures the interest of the mind,” said Ald. Rey Colon (35th), whose ward splits Logan Squre with Ald. Joe Moreno’s (1st). Lula falls into the 35th Ward.

Colon said, “I just started noticing it on the street on my own. People go, ‘What’s that?’ It’s a symbol of what the ward is becoming, a haven for artists and for public art. It is good for the neighborhood, and we’ll see more of these installations in other areas. It doesn’t seem to bother anyone, and no one has complained about them. It is anonymous, though. They don’t have permisson, but you can’t categorize it as graffiti because it is so neatly done.”

Moreno added, “It is very creative, I’ve seen them all and I like them. Obviously any kind of street art or murals need to have permission of the owners or the residents that have that space. There are many murals in my ward that are supported that way.”

The Logan Square art movement is an offshoot of “guerilla” or “tactical urbanism” that appeared earlier this year in Raleigh, N.C. In the dark of night, without permission from the city, designer Matt Tomasulo and friends installed 27 signs telling people how long it takes to walk from one destination to another. The signs encouraged people to walk and not drive around Raleigh. A subsequent Kickstarter campaign for the Raleigh project raised more than $11,000 in eight days, exceeding its goal of $5,800.

Similarily, nine orange slabs of plywood with cards that read “Take a Walk on the Boardwalk” were installed a couple of months ago in front of Lula Cafe. “We absolutely want a more walkable city,” Moreno said. “We’re working on that, and if any artist would need a public way permit I would help them in doing that.”

Lula owner Jason Hammel is fine with the artwork.

“It’s a happy thing, so we are kindred spirits,” he said. “People are constantly commenting about it on our Twitter feed. They see it on their morning rush at the cafe, and it makes their day. We have no idea who the artist is. It was taken away once. But it keeps appearing. I must be here 21/7 and it happens in the three hours I’m not here.”

A pair of red dice are chained to a tree in front of Lula. On Wednesday morning a 5-year-old girl and her mother spent a great deal of time checking out the artwork.

Hammel said, “It’s not on city property, it doesn’t get in anybody’s way. It’s perfect.”

Logan Square residents Ben and Carrie Campana each picked up the red phone around the corner from the cafe.

They smiled. A lot.

“It’s different,” said Ben, 29, who works in retail management. “It is interesting. It’s fun to hunt them down.” Carrie, a 30-year-old massage therapist, added, “I like it because no one has tampered with them. There should be more street art like this in Chicago.”

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