Monday, November 28, 2011

Western Avenue Series

Mile 16: Kinzie-Division
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 a painting based on this sketch.
This stretch of Western has a variety of building types, small storefronts, like pharmacies, bars, restaurants, in addition to buildings with larger footprints, like a car dealership, which is the subject of the upcoming painting, a church and some larger condo buildings.
I've always been moved and sobered by the Ghost Bikes, bikes painted white to memorialize cyclist killed.  You see the bikes around the city and in doing a bit of research, I found that the Ghost Bike along this stretch of Western, memorializing Isai Medina, was the first in Chicago.  The unique bike used in this memorial was Isai's invention.  It seems that Mr. Medina, who was killed while riding home from worked was well known and loved, with over 400 people attending a memorial ride soon after his death.  He regularly rode his bike from Evanston to 4700 South for work each day. 
Finally, a correction.  I sung the praises of The Empty Bottle in the entry regarding "Mile 14" of the Western Avenue Series, mistakenly asserting that the bar and music venue is located along that stretch.  Actually, the Empty Bottle is located in this mile, just south of Division.  

Rest in peace Isai Medina and others lost is cycling accidents in our city.
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