Monday, August 15, 2011

Western Avenue Series

Mile 12: 34th-25th 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 character of this stretch of Western Avenue continues to feel vast.  The street is wide with a median giving it a nearly highway-like proportion.  A portion of the street is lined with typical Chicago style two and three-flats, which both brings a more human scale to the street and also feels slightly unexpected given the width of the street.  
Later in the mile, the Stevenson Expressway runs above Western, giving this portion of the Avenue an even more distinct sense of vastness.  Soon after that intersection though, the Avenue runs above the Chicago river, an urban connection to a nature.  This intersection, which is the subject of the forthcoming painting of this mile, is one of those really interesting locations where industry and the river collide and the skyline looms in the background.
I was also delighted to stumble upon a Domino Sugar factory, which was enjoyable because I was fully enamored with the Domino Sugar factory in Baltimore.
What are your favorite spots along the river in Chicago? 
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