Monday, May 2, 2011

Western Avenue Series

Mile 6: 82nd-74th Street
This painting 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 a post about the next mile of Western.
The painting representing this mile is of the abandoned Woodman Lanes Bowling alley.  While many portions of Western are not conventionally beautiful, lined with industrial buildings, fast food restaurants, and car dealerships, the Avenue still feels economically viable and well trafficked.  This mile, while still showing some signs of vitality, it feels more uninhabited than the regions which lay south in Beverly and the miles, which are further north.  There is a charm that remains even as this bowling alley crumbles, the giant bowling ball and pin that adorn the sign leaving us to wonder about the hay day of Woodman Lanes.

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