So much happens while you're riding the El -- between hoping no one notices the Lady Gaga on your iPod to pretending not to notice the lady in a bathrobe gagging on an iPod -- that you rarely have time to stop and think "Damn, this train looks HOT right now". Opening your eyes, Hiroshi Ariyama.
A Chi artist and photographer who hand silkscreens his images onto paper in colored inks creating a dramatic, starkly contrasted, almost comic book-like feel, Ariyama's work takes scenes that're all-too familiar to any Windy City commuter and gives them a certain unmistakable charm (take that blue moons, purple horseshoes, and green clovers!). Arresting CTA-themed work includes an aptly colored Brown Line train weaving through buildings as it heads northbound from Merchandise Mart, a steely blue and white print looking up at the train from the Hubbard/Wells intersection, and a few scattered commuters gathering at a dark, dimly lit Chicago station above Franklin just as the train's pulled out, because you know the train ain't foolin' around with the rhythm method. Other instantly recognizable Chicagoan shots include a brightly colored view of the Hancock from the Kinzie street bridge, a towering shot of the Sears (yeah, that's right), and even the good old Morton Salt factory ... please consult a doctor before purchasing if you have high blood pressure or hate salt factories.
Because everyone needs some time away from their commute, there're also more recreational shots like a series of colorful prints from a rainy Montrose beach and a group of dogs getting their bath on in Bucktown -- a shot you'll want to take home because, damn, those dogs look HOT right now.