Chuck Walker “may be the best unknown figure painter in Chicago,” says Margaret Hawkins. In sifting through more than 20 years of Walker’s work for his current mid-career retrospective, Through a Glass Darkly, at the Hyde Park Art Center, the local critic and curator was especially drawn to the image (untitled) of a girl standing at the lakefront with a bicycle. “It embodies everything I like about Chuck’s work: It’s mysterious and soulful and strange,” Hawkins says. She notes the figure’s hidden face and strong body, the “ominous, gloomy, gray-green Chicago light,” and the unusual crisscrossing composition. “I can’t put my finger on exactly what appeals to me, and that’s what I love about Chuck Walker’s work: It’s so layered and reticent and dark,” she says.

Photograph: Chuck Walker, Untitiled, 1986, Oil on canvas, 4 ft. x 5 ft. 3 in., Collection of Suzette and Tim Flood