Monday, March 28, 2011

Western Avenue Series

Mile 4: 98th Street-90th Street
This sketch is a part of my Western Avenue Series, through which I'll be making 24 watercolor paintings, one to document each mile of Western Avenue, in Chicago.  I started this project because while it is not considered to be among the most “beautiful” of Chicago’s streets, Western Avenue is a perfect place to document the humanness of Chicago, the positive and the negative. In the words of Stuart Dybek, "Western, with apologies to State Street, is a great street,  Unlike State, it is a street that goes to the interior, the heart of the city, as it glides and glows through a United Nations of neighborhoods."  Check back next Monday to see the painting completed based on this sketch.
The stretch of Western Avenue between 98th and 90th Streets maintains some of the character of the portions of Beverly which lie further south.  Included in this mile are well established business like the Original Rainbow Cone, which is to be featured in the sketch above, and Beverly Bikes.  This mile also has seen new development, including suburban style strip malls which house chain stores like Applebee's and Walmart.  
There are also business like Evergreen Plaza, which represent some mix of these two genres.  Timeout featured Evergreen Plaza in a article highlighting various businesses located on Western, they said:
"On the South Side, if you say you’re going to “the Plaza” it is understood you mean Evergreen Plaza. (The nickname became so popular that in recent years, the mall dropped the Evergreen from its signage.) This Evergreen Park institution has been the quintessential city shopping center since 1952. But inside, the stores have more flavor than the typical collection of chain shops, with esoteric specialty stores such as Lids (devoted to ballplayers’ caps), Just for the Scent of It (an all-perfume store), Silver Design (jewelry), and Twin Hicks, which sells the artwork of Aaron and Alan Hicks (“identical twins…identical art styles”)."
I was totally charmed by the sign for Beverly Bikes, which is located on the northern edge of this mile  It is reminiscent of a time gone by and Beverly Bikes was, in fact, opened in 1921.  In those years it's had only 3 owners, in 1996 the store was purchased by Paul and Kathleen Weise and was renamed Beverly Bike and Ski.  Today, the store rents and sells both cross country skis and snowshoes.  Besides doing complete bike mechanics the store offers full ski service in those winter months for both cross country and downhill skis.  
Did you know that cross country skis and snowshoes were available for rent on Western?
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