24 Apr

Corncob, or Confusing?

For people who know Chicago, the Marina Towers condo on the river is instantly recognizable and popularly known as Corncob Towers, for its shape. For those who don’t, a photo or, in this case, a painting, could be confusing. Let me digress a bit and provide some background.

While attending graduate school in Indiana, I escaped to Chicago at every opportunity and came to love the city. It was a great release from the bad food, pre-Me Too experiences, and over-reliance on alcohol that defined grad school. My experiences as a 20-something in Chicago, however, tended to focus on restaurants, Second City comedy and Rush Street dance clubs.

I was finally able to overcome my “flyover” tendencies and visit the midwest again, or at least Chicago. It’s an architectural mecca, from Gilded Age to contemporary. The Chicago Architecture Center offers varied tours, so after the obligatory boat tour we took a different walking tour every day. We also discovered the Chicago River at night is a magical thing, with lights reflecting from buildings and from traffic on its myriad bridges.

I want to capture that in a painting, so am sharing this work in progress. Reviewing my many photos, I used crop marks to improve the composition. A couple of quick sketches, one pencil, one color, helped adjust the design before I started painting. After multiple iterations over weeks, I’m trying to decide if it’s done. I ask myself if more colors, such as traffic lights, would be distracting. Ditto the boats moored beneath the Corncob? What about the building itself, which could simply look wrong to those who don’t know it’s actually round? Feedback is always welcome!


  1. Love your story about Chicago time–my older son lived there for 10 years and I got to know it that way–love the architecture and the museums–thanks for posting your art work as a tribute.

  2. Love seeing work in progress – please do more of that! And how fitting, as a corncob is, too, a work in progress – corn eaten off and cob ready for recycling back to mother earth.

  3. I was around as a kid when those towers went up and have a business partner who has lived there over 50 years. A little known fact, both John Denver, under another name, and at least one member of the Chad Mitchell Trio lived there at one time.

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