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.
This stretch of Western Avenue north of the Dan Ryan Forest Preserve felt rather desolate. There was a Catholic school occupying a generous portion of property, an abandoned bowling alley, and a some industrial buildings. The street is wide, there were few pedestrians, and it felt like a portion of the Avenue that feels a bit economically depressed. There was a marked difference in the character of the street near the northern edge of the mile. After passing under some train tracks, there were more businesses, including one of the approximately 70 car dealerships located along Western.
Have you ventured along this portion of Western? What did you think?