Artist paints mural at gang border

July 23, 2009 (CHICAGO) Some of those mistakes put him in prison. But now, Lopez is taking what he's learned from his bad decisions to help make a positive impact on society by creating works of art that everyone can enjoy.

Each day, Lopez finds himself living another chapter of his rebirth. Convicted in a street gang homicide at 16 years old, he spent 23 years in prison where he developed his artistic ability.

"I was inspired by other men in prison and seeing what they were able to do with just a brush and paint and to turn out these images was just mind blowing," said Lopez.

Lopez leads a team of teenagers in making a mural under the railroad tracks at 49th and Throop. The railroad's viaduct is an important symbol to the community; it is the dividing line between rival street gangs.

"What we're trying to do is convey -- symbolically -- a gateway as opposed to a barrier in bringing people together celebrating the community," said Lopez.

Totally self taught, Lopez displays a wide range of artistic expression in the work he has produced since leaving prison. Michael Donovan is a co worker on the staff of the Precious Blood Ministry Of Reconciliation.

"We work with kids primarily who've come out of detention and so again Victor's been there. He brings inspiration and enthusiasm and a hard work ethic," said Donovan, coworker.

"Art gave me hope....and because before art there was none. I had nothing to really live for or breathe for. And so the man up there placed art in my life and it brought about so many blessings," said Lopez. "The beauty I'm able to create-- and to be able to share it with my family and friends."

View Lopez's work at

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