Monday, June 20, 2011

Western Avenue Series

Mile 10: 50th-42nd 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.
This portion of Western Avenue takes on a character quite different from the stretch, which lay just two miles south.  The street transitions from a densely populated commercial strip bustling with fast food restaurants and clothing stores to a much wider boulevard.  In addition to being wider, this stretch of Western  is an interesting mix of sprawling factories and solid brick 2 flats.  
Most surprising, was the Wheatland Tube factory, still in operation.  It sprawls beyond a parking lot used by customers at a home depot.  It's all together unusual to see such large scale industry along a main corridor in a major city.  This mile is home to a number of other functioning and vacant factory buildings.  I was particularly of fond a cold parts factory at 44th St., which was anchored by an elegantly proportioned tower.  

What are you favorite Chicago boulevards?
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