Julia Fish

1614 North Hermitage Avenue: Painting as Inscription

Text excerpt from:
Chicago Architecture: Histories, Revisions, Alternatives
Edited by Charles Waldheim and Katerina Ruedi Ray, University of Chicago Press 2005

In a sequence of works that extended to twenty-nine paintings, begun in 1992 and continuing to 2001, I recorded the experience of looking and living within the space of my home and garden at 1614 North Hermitage Avenue. Step by step, one painting at a time,
my attention turned to the visual evidence and structural configurations that indicate this building’s history — a brick two-flat storefront that nudges the sidewalk, as a storefront should. *

Individually, the paintings re-present the tangible evidence of floors, walls, and windows at one-to-one scale, oriented by point of view, either through the use of a deliberate, slight perspective in relationship to the given subject, or an examination of the paradox of spatial illusion. Collectively, the paintings function as archive: translating the significance of touch, scale, and workmanship characteristic of Chicago’s working-class homes and storefronts typical of the time. Irregularities found within the predictable structures and surfaces are key to the history represented here; they signal meaning and condition memory through repeated experience of a specific domestic site, and offer an opportunity to reconsider history through the inscription of the painted image.

* Designed and built by architect Theodore Steuben in 1922.

Comments are closed.