Eyes on the Skies

by Alden Cole on March 7, 2014 · 0 comments

aka N by NW Center City #7, oil on plywood panel, 18.5″ x 11.5″, framed in oak and walnut, 24″ x 17″ • collection of the artist $

EyesOnWP2012. January was a month of sketching, reading, thinking about making art. Oil painting got off to a slow start in early February, with my seventh attempt at the view from the 3rd-floor studio. Above my horizon-line of rooftops loom the four tallest skyscrapers of Philadelphia — from left to right, the Obelisk, the Two Needles, and the Monolith. More familiarly known as the Mellon bank building, the twin towers of Liberty Place (aka the Rouse Towers, which were inspired by NYC’s Chrysler Building) and the highly reflective Comcast headquarters towering above them all. The four cluster together forming a mountain peak of concrete, glass and steel, surrounded by foothills — buildings constructed prior to 1985 when the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ not to build any structure in Center City higher than 548′ (the height of the statue of William Penn on top of Philadelphia’s City Hall) was finally broken with the approval to build Rouse’s Towers. Liberty Place One, started in ’85, completed in ’87 (61 floors with a height of 945′ — the second tallest skyscraper in both Philly and Pennsylvania) was in the midst of construction when I moved here in ’86. Liberty Place Two, started in ’88, was completed in ’90 (58 floors, 848′). The Mellon Obelisk, my favorite because of its Egyptianesque qualities, was likewise completed in ’90 (54 floors, 792′). The official groundbreaking ceremony for the Comcast Monolith (58 floors, 975′ — the tallest sky scraper in both Philly and PA, and 17th tallest in the country) was held on March 31, 2005 (right around the time I was thinking about going to India with Omar Kabir). I discovered an interesting synchronicity just now through Wikipedia that the ‘topping out’ (or ‘topping off’) ‘builder’s rite ceremony (when the last beam is placed at the top of a building) happened on June 18, 2007, my 63rd birthday. The building wasn’t technically ‘finished’ until March 2008. Now to return from my diversionary fact-finding expedition online to the story at hand…
At first my painted cityscape was figure-less, going through several early stages in late spring, not acquiring the figure on the deck – and its name – until late July. NO, I did not capture my neighbor off-handedly posing on his/her deck across the way. I prefer to think of the figure as a stand-in for myself: Everyman, EveryBeing, Every-One – just keeping our eyes on the skies, you know.

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