In the Loop
St. Peter's in the Loop is a busy place mid-week. At 2:00 PM, a steady stream of people entered and exited this Franciscan house of worship. The soybean futures hadn't dropped precipitously; North Korea hadn't dropped another missile into the Sea of Japan; and there were no signs of tornados or locusts on this beautiful mid-May day. Maybe religion is alive and well in America.
Many of the churches in Chicago have that European flare: stone, lattice work, steeples and bell towers, stained-glass windows, and arches. In short, a heavy and imposing look. Not this one. It is a rectangle box erected in the Art Deco style. From what I can ascertain, work on the building began in 1951, with the dedication occurring sometime in 1953. With all the new residential housing in the Loop, the size of St. Peter's congregation is on the uptick. In recent years, up to 20,000 people had ashes applied to their foreheads on Ash Wednesday.
The sculpture depicting Jesus on the cross catches my eyes whenever I pass the church. At three stories in height, the striking image is hard to miss, particularly given the church's flat surface plane that is otherwise unadorned with ornamentation. I find the simplicity both aesthetically appealing and thought-provoking. It was designed by Latvian sculptor Arvid Strauss and executed by J. Watts, a Chicagoan.
The building was designed by Vitzhum & Burns.
Photographer's Notes. I've been scouting this location for at least a year. Turns out the workweek is the best time to photograph the church because no parking is permitted then, but it is on Saturdays and Sundays. I still had to deal with passing vehicles, but those can be rendered as a blur with a long shutter speed, or, as I did today, you can wait for the traffic light to turn red. I prefer no passersby, so I had to move quickly between lulls in the flow of pedestrians on cellphones. My heart did sink when a SYSCO delivery truck pulled up in front of the church, but fortunately the truck only idled in place for five minutes.
I did get lucky with the light. The structure is surrounded by much taller buildings, so natural light is hard to come by. The building was not in total darkness given the cloudless sky and the mid-afternoon sun. As is apparent, somewhere there is a break between the surrounding buildings to the west, so a patch of bright sunlight managed to perforate the darkness, which can be viewed as the personification of Jesus.
The photograph was made with a 23mm Rodenstock lens mounted on a Arca-Swiss technical camera. Aperture F16; Shutter Speed 1/8th; ISO 100. I did use Photoshop to eliminate a cable that ran across the entire picture frame, bisecting Jesus. Most people don't notice visual clutter like that cable, but I do.