[By Jane Dillon Wingfield in Chicago]
I grew up on the south side of Chicago. As a kid I attended classes at the Chicago Art Institute. I also watched a line of policemen protect the first African American families to integrate the beach near our house. The good-and-the-bad of Chicago is a part of my life story.
When I was about eight, my father joined a plein-air painting group that visited several locations in Chicago's Loop. His paintings are embedded in my memory.
One of my favorites he called "Say a Prayer for Hymie Weiss." It was Holy Name Cathedral on the corner of State and Superior near Chicago's Water Tower. Hymie, an Irish Catholic who became a mob boss and leader of the North Side Gang during Prohibition, was Al Capone's bitter rival, "the only man Al Capone feared." (Wikipedia)
On October 11, 1926 Capone's hitmen shot Hymie and his buddies on the street. Legend has it that some of the bullets nicked the cornerstone of Holy Name Cathedral.
Walking in my dad's footsteps, I found another spot that was the subject matter in his plein-air group, the Chicago Art Institute (see sketch at the top of this post). My family still has my dad's oil painting of this same scene.
The Jay Pritzker Pavilion, designed by architect Frank Gehry, was built after my father's time; but it is definitely another Chicago landmark. We were treated to a balmy summer evening concert of Cole Porter tunes pouring forth from the sculpted metal amphitheater. Lit up with pink, blue and purple lights it was like stationary, melodic fireworks.
I made all of these sketches while I was visiting Chicago for the Urban Sketchers Chicago Sketch Seminar in July. It was the first time in forty years that I've spent any time back in my hometown. I was flooded with memories of my childhood. Now I have new memories that include a great seminar put on by USk Chicago. More about that later.
Jane Wingfield lives in Olympia, Washington, USA. She is a long-time member of Urban Sketchers Seattle, helps organize sketch-outings and co-administers the USk Seattle blog. You can see more of Jane's sketchers here: www.olysketcher.com