Thursday, September 16, 2010

Finkel Steel Factory

I have often quoted Nelson Algren, who said that loving Chicago, is "like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real."

This quote so aptly summarizes the delight of Chicago for me. I was mindful of that quotation as I made this painting of an uncelebrated spot on West Cortland Street, in Chicago. From this vantage point on an old truss bridge, one can see the old Finkel Steel Factory, the north branch of the Chicago River and the Chicago skyline. This scene is on the surface "broken": the factory which no longer functions a reminder of the decay of Chicago's industrial past, the river likely fouled by pollution, the vegetation un-manicured. The image is simultaneously so lovely in its "real-ness." The vibrance of the color of the rusting metal panels, the freedom in the wildness of the trees and vines, the reflected light of the river, and the grandeur of Chicago's skyline. I am often drawn to images which embody history as this image does. In a country where we often encounter the newness of strip malls, condo buildings, and arenas named for corporations, there is great appeal in the places which tell a story of an earlier time.
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