About this Series
“Crossing Lake Street”, “Mr. Lom” and “65 Restaurant” were my first El Track paintings, started around 1999. I was living in a neglected building on Lake and Wells and attending the Art Institute of Chicago. I painted the “65 Restaurant” scene from the roof of that building, surrounded by offices and the loop of the Brown Line train.
My good friend and photographer Andrew Steiner’s work from that time was my resource for the “Crossing Lake” and “Mr. Lom” endeavors. After working with his images and watching how he photographed the city, I was inspired to document my own resource material and have done so ever since.
The El Tracks have a distinct sense of place. The overhead tracks are old, rusted, with layers of paint, graffiti, posters and garbage. In the midst of their decay, there is splendor. A vestigial memory of their origins, forged in the demand of an industrializing new city. Generations of passengers traveling along it’s rails, from home to work and back again, is a common, shared experience.
A painting is limited by its dimensions and so the track or street could go on infinitely beyond the canvas. We fill in the blanks – where that line starts, where it ends. We bring our own ideas and expectations about the past or future to the painting and recognizing the place helps the viewer feel “at home,” less uncertain about their place in relation to the world and even to the art itself.