Monday, May 14, 2012

Western Avenue Series

Mile 24: Pratt-Howard
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 Wednesday to see the painting completed based on this sketch.
The final mile of Western Avenue is located in West Ridge, one of 77 Chicago community areas. This area seems to be home to an rather diverse population, including Chicago's largest Hasidic community, as well as other Jewish, Irish American, German-American, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Assyrian, Russian, and Korean immigrant communities.
This is reflected in the types of businesses located along this stretch of Western.  Included is the Shari'ah Board of America, whose website was not entirely functional, but I found a blog post which declared, "Need to govern your life by Sharia Law, confused about Sharia rulings? Today is your lucky day as The Sharia Board of America is here to guide you. Just submit your questions online, and wait for the reply. Or if you are in the Chicago area, just drop by."  So, seemingly the Shari'ah Board is a headquarters for the interpretation of the moral code and religious law of Islam.
The neighboring establishments are as varied as Mullen's Sports Bar, U Lucky Dog hot dog stand, and Jessie's Mexican Grill.  
Have you traveled to this most northern portion of Western Avenue?
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