This abstract work by Chicago artist Patrick Fitzgerald is one of a series of “track paintings” that materialize the imagined tracks navigated by his miniature soap-box car sculptures. Inspired by slot-car racetracks, each painting depicts a meandering, yet cyclical path that twists and turns upon itself in an endless loop.
Entitled "Michigan, Ports of Indiana," this track painting is inspired by the Great Lakes, specifically the southern coast of Lake Michigan. Like all of Fitzgerald's works, the paintings of his Great Lakes series are deeply responsive to his surroundings and encapsulate the unique industrial histories and geologic wonders of the American midwest.
This particular work tells the story of a region shaped by trade, industry and intersecting modes of transportation, using Fitzgerald's signature track format to illustrate the three major ports of Indiana: Burns Harbor, Jeffersonville and Mt. Vernon. Borrowing elements from circuit board designs and commuter rail maps, the lines of these tracks are angular and geometric, parallel passageways that terminate in squared nodes representing various destinations of northern Indiana. Yellowed fragments from a 1945 industrial directory collage the bottom of the painting, the source of inspiration for many of Fitzgerald's works and a through-line between his paintings and sculptures.
Fitzgerald celebrates the irregularities within the work, taking care to cultivate the depth of color and texture that results from many layers of paint, found materials, hand-written details and the traceable texture of his brush. Reflecting on his Great Lakes series, Fitzgerald writes, "As with so many of my works, I want them to appear old, as if they had emerged from a bygone era. I’m always trying to balance an aesthetic quality with something arcane. My desire within each work is to create the timeless quality of a relic imbued with nostalgia and emotive power."
Oil, collage, ink and color pencil on wood panel. Framed.