bridge, Chicago


I was flipping through one of my sketchbooks from Chicago and repeatedly ran into drawings I did of this lifting bridge over the Chicago River.

Located behind the Merchandise Mart, it is a freight train bridge on a deadend spur that I believe ends under the Mart.  I have seen trains there but I never saw this bridge down in the 4 or so years of working within a few blocks of it.  Directly across the river is a condo project, I think by Harry Weese, that responds to the angle of the bridge.  It always looks like it took so much effort to keep this thing at this equilibrium, a bridge always ready to bounce, to clamber down and have trains rumble across.


the new year


even with the dire news daily filling the airwaves and dampening our enthusiasm,

it is hard not to be optimistic at the turn of a new year.  Or maybe it’s just a sunny 60 degrees in Boulder today.

One of a series of Chicago bridge paintings done over 4 or 5 years.

I have lived in a few different cities and each place has seemed to call for a different medium of work.

In Lexington, KY it was mostly photography.  Boston was sketching, with dozens of sketchbooks filled with daily lunch drawings, etc.

In Chicago, painting held sway.  Now in Boulder, CO, photography has again dominated my interests. It is certainly the light of each city that is different, but also the job I was working at the time that allowed for different types of works.

Not by way of comparison, but it is no surprise that the Venetian painter’s work was characterized by shifting relationships of colors, not clearly defined forms, as the city’s mists and land/water ambiguity never leaves one’s perception of the place.  The hard, sharp light of New Mexico lead to Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings, California’s sun and ocean to Richard Diebenkorn’s abstractions.

It’s the start of a new year, maybe I’ll load some more film in the camera.

Kentucky bridges


bridges over the Kentucky River, outside of Versailles, Kentucky


these photos were actually taken in conjunction with a photo essay on barns.  You can see a few tobacco barns and whiskey storage warehouse barns in the background


I think I couldn’t resist the contrast between the trestle bridge structure and the billowing trees of the bluffs above the river.  The barns look more like solitary train cars, scudding across the hilltops.

notebook sketch, Chicago bridges


Chicago has more bridges than any other major city in the United States. Not the large, majestic, Golden Gate type, but the short span, working bridges. This bridge is typically in the raised position and sits as a railroad-only bridge for a rarely used spur west of the Merchandise Mart.

Sketch by Mark Gerwing, 1999