Mile 14: 16th-Congress Streets
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 Express Auto Repair shop featured in the painting seems typical of the businesses which populate the surrounding blocks. The street is more densely lined with businesses and apartments than some portions of the Avenue, but still does not seem entirely geared toward pedestrians. The focus remains on the car with fast moving traffic, generously proportioned streets, and car repair shops.I was curious about the Center for General and Applied Education, which is located on this stretch of Western. They describe themselves in this way, "We are a special educational center where we want you to learn everything there is to learn so you could become: A versatile, knowledgeable individual. We can do this because we sift, sort and integrate knowledge, separating it from the minutia, the redundancies and the excessive elaboration to the point of boredom, so the essence of our collective human knowledge gets passed on to you."