When we last caught up with local artist Nick Fury, he was displaying his work in a most unlikely venue — the CTA’s Ashland elevated train platform. Or maybe it was exactly the perfect spot for his art, since transit buses and trains have long been his favorite subject.
Now, Fury has taken on a new subject: buildings. Specifically, those structures that survived the Great Fire 144 years ago. Fury’s artwork is on display on the second floor of the Chicago History Museum at 1601 North Clark Street through November 15.
“Instead of focusing on the buildings that were destroyed, I thought it would be interesting to depict those that survived,” he said. “I was very honored that the museum chose my work.”
Fury’s new work is known as the Crimson Sky series. He spent quite a bit of time researching the subject before the creative part of his process began. It was fitting that some of that research came at the very museum where his work now hangs.
“They have a great research center here, so I went in to verify and make sure my research checked out,” Fury said. “I also went inside the Water Tower to look out across the street to the pumping station and get the perspective just right.”
One of the works on display, View of Pumping Station from Chicago Water Tower 1 offers an abstract view of the pumping station as it may have looked that fateful day. The crimson color adds an eerie feeling for the viewer, suggesting it was definitely a hot time in the old town. Fury hasn’t abandoned his unique medium. He applies white typewriter correcting tape, ever so carefully, to an opaque field to generate images.
The other piece of Fury’s Crimson Sky series on display at the museum is O’Leary and McLaughlin Homes. Only the barn was destroyed by the fire, not Mrs. O’Leary’s house, so Fury chose it to include it.
“It’s a name that’s closely associated with the fire,” Fury said. “The top five search results on Google of the fire are Mrs. O’Leary, or her cow or the lantern.”