CHICAGO — From the hippest to the oldest neighborhoods in Chicago, colorful and creative street art shows up everywhere. There’s one in particular that caught our eye: an adorable bear with tired eyes who looks like he’s ready for or just finished the boxing match of his life.
It’s called the “The Bear Champ,” and it’s the creation of Puerto Rican artist J.C. Rivera.
“I created the bear because I like boxing,” Rivera said, “Then eventually when I started trying to be an artist and I started branding the bear, it became like rolling with the punches and trying to make it as artist.”
So the Bear Champ is now a symbol of Rivera’s struggle to make it in the art world, a journey that started seven years ago. Rivera said after researching different cities to make his dream come true, he picked Chicago.
“It’s a big city like places like New York and L.A.,” he said. “… but it’s small enough that you can still stand out.”
And stand out he has. Rivera started painting with a crew of Chicago street artists while working on his fine arts career. The bear took over, and for the last six years, this has been his main source of income. The Bear Champ is in approximately 30 indoor and outdoor spaces in Chicago. Rivera has also traveled all over the United States with his bear.
“What I like about it is the interaction with people who get inspired by it,” Rivera said.
Street artist and muralist J.C. Rivera is one of Chicago’s very own.