Chicago Themed Paintings


 
 

The series of Chicago paintings
are part of my Portraits of the City project; which is an attempt to capture the Spirit of Chicago in portraiture. All works are oil on board.


 

If you have some talent, Chicago will give you a chance. If you were born here, or raised here, Chicago will try and help you out even more. Chicago doesn't really trust outsiders; which is unusual, because, at one time nearly EVERYONE came here from somewhere else.

No one loves a winner, and especially a hometown hero as much as Chicago. Chicago is wide open, and if you have some ability (even if you don't) you're in!


 

~ THE ACTIVISTS ~
 

Chicago began as a business enterprise, primarily, and continues as a business enterprise.
The city was built by strong minded individuals and those individuals who raised the City's economic status, like Field, Swift and Pullman were applauded. But their slave labor tactics caused a lot of hardship for a lot of people. 

This isn't the place to debate why some individuals dedicate themselves to improving the lives of others. Fortunately, throughout Chicago's history there have been a good number of altruistic individuals; Activists - sometimes called Anarchists. These Activists for people's rights and justice were the better angels of Chicago's nature. Because without them, Chicago would have become a city of rich guys standing on the backs of the Worker - rather then a city of opportunity.

With its flow of immigrants, Chicago represented America. You come to this country willing to work, you may not make it, but maybe your kids and grand-kids will. This steady cycle of people "moving up" is needed in any functioning society. The Activist's helped enable this process.


 

~ THE MUSICIANS ~


Chicago has a long history of achievements in all musical styles. In the early part of the 20th century it became the second home of Jazz after New Orleans – with King Oliver and Louis Armstrong as major players in the city. Swing, which was the sound of the Roaring 20's, was invented in Chicago by Benny Goodman. Muddy Waters brought the Electric Blues sound – which would evolve into Rock and Roll – from the Mississippi Delta. Also, R & B – through Chess Records – began here. And let's not forget the CSO is a world leader in classical music. 

More recently, House music was created in Chicago. Yearly, Chicago hosts Jazz Fest, Blues Fest and Lollapalooza.    


 

~ RELIGION ~
 

When entering any new situation, you try and find someone who "speaks your language," literally and figuratively. When immigrants came to Chicago, there was nothing more important then the neighborhood place of worship - be it church or temple. 

The original neighborhoods in Chicago represented the countries of origin for the new residents (with firm boundaries). The center point of the neighborhood was the place of worship - because there you received the simple solace of hearing your native language being spoken - then things did not seem so frightening. Today in Chicago, people still ask "What parish are you from?" - instead of asking what neighborhood are you from?


 

~ THE ENTERTAINERS ~

 

Chicago has always been full of hams, both human and animal. Hams in this case refers to those individuals who have made it their life's work to give the rest of us a short reprieve from reality: The Entertainers.

When Chicago began as a trading post in the 1830's, I am sure there was some guy with a banjo strumming songs. Chicago has offered a wide variety and interpretations of entertainment throughout its history. Remember, Chicago started as an "anything goes" town. It attracted anyone who did not fit anywhere else. Criminals, immigrants, hustlers and whores came to Chicago; and they weren't looking for a British drawing room drama.  This attitude continued for about 60 or 70 years, read about the Levee District some time. 

The speakeasy's in the 20's did not care about being sophisticated, but by accident they offered the great jazz men of the day, like Louis Armstrong, a stage and the ability to play anything they wanted - everyone was drunk, so the wilder the music the better.  These speakeasy all night jam sessions where the incubators for modern jazz. Swing - which was started by Benny Goodman at this time, lasted until after WWII.

Somewhere along the line, Chicago decided to get Sophisticated, and they started a symphony - mainly because New York had one. Chicago also had a large vaudeville and theater district, along with neighborhood ballrooms like the Avalon and the Trianon. 

In the late 1940's, Chicago invented the modern television format.  Dave Garroway started the "morning show" format still in use today, Burr Tillstrom invented children's programming and Studs Terkel invented the live drama which was a television staple until the 1960's.

Anything else? Well there have been a couple people from Chicagoland who have made their mark in the entertainment field; such as Walt Disney, Gloria Swanson, John Belushi and Marlon Brando. 


 

~ FOLKS ~

 

Chicago folks are about the most important people in the city. They go about their lives, making a living, keeping things running and wondering what it is all about. They try to pull something meaningful out of this whole mishmash.