Southwest Art

LIFE in the CITY

GARBAGE BINS, telephone wires, fire escapes—many folks would consider this back-alley jumble to be an eyesore. But for Chicago artist Nancie King Mertz, the urban street furniture tells a compelling story. “Unsightly elements become intriguing shapes to my eye as I peer down alleyways for inspiration,” Mertz says. About the wires in particular, she adds, “Their patterns create what I’ve dubbed ‘calligraphy in the sky’ as they twist, swoop, and slice the sky into interesting shapes. For me, the negative space around these elements becomes just as important as the elements themselves.”

Mertz is referring specifically to her painting ALLEY OFF ELM, which is a good example of her take on the urban landscape. In this piece the so-called “unsightly elements” morph into exciting, challenging subject matter for the pastel painter. The painting received a special award and mention at the American Women Artists exhibition

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