Burnham Park: Don't Feed the Seagulls
In 2012, the Chicago Park District received a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency for a mural to raise public awareness to prevent litter and protect the environmental quality of Chicago’s beaches. As a result of the funding, the Chicago Park District hired artist Jeff Zimmerman to paint a mural on all four facades of the 47th Street Comfort Station.
Entitled Don’t Feed the Seagulls, the mural includes images of people, litter, junk food, a fish, a dog, and seagulls. Jeff Zimmerman painted the mural with his characteristically bright colors and large-scale imagery. He incorporated the faces of real people he encountered while painting the mural. He used a similar approach for another anti-litter mural called You Know What You Should Do, which is located at Oak Street Beach in Lincoln Park.
In addition to colorful and diverse faces of people from the community surrounding Burnham Park, Don’t Feel the Seagulls incorporates black and white imagery that makes reference to Chicago's history. For instance, the building’s south façade includes portraits of nineteenth century environmentalists perched on rocks and looking out towards the horizon. The east façade features a Native American chief with a grave expression on his face. Seagulls inhabit each of the four scenes. On the west side of the building, two seagulls are fighting over a half-eaten Twinkie in mid-air. In a manner quite similar to Zimmerman’s Oak Street Beach mural, the comfort station’s bright walls communicate an important environmental message in a playful and accessible way.