Five sculptures being installed in Wicker Park area -- part of the Lakefront Sculpture Exhibit


Frederick Napoli's sculpture

Begun in 2002 as the brainchild of then 43rd Ward Alderman Vi Daley, the Lakefront Sculpture Exhibit (LSE) included 8 pieces selected from 50 submissions. With more than 70 submissions for the 2012 event, 30 were chosen. Five will be located throughout the WPB (SSA#33) area.

Three are completed and in place:

  1. Churchill Park, 2007 N. Churchill St., is home to Michael Brown's work, "Confluence"
  2. Division and Winchester is the site for Ron Gard's installation, "Coming Home"
  3. Metzger Court, 1264 N. Milwaukee Ave., is where the Frederick Napoli sculpture, "Learning curve," may be found

The Michael Grucza piece, "A House for Sandy" which his omage to Calder,at the entrance of Wicker Park., the corner of Damen and Wicker Park Ave.. is partially installed and the John Bannon piece, "How gravity works," is to be installed in Walsh Park, 1722 N. Ashland Ave., in the next week.


Ron Gard's piece being installed on Division

This year's process began in February when members of the WPB were part of the first round of selections. Everyone at that session voted. Sponsors were then asked for their top 5 wish list for their area. The final distribution was left to the exhibition directors. Artists are responsible for the installation and maintenance of their pieces for which each artist is awarded $1,500. The remaining $1,500 per piece paid by sponsors primarily covers the cost of insurance and promotion.


Michael Brown and his wife as they complete the installation in Churchill Park

LSE's history of successfully developing a portfolio of work and then carrying out the implementation of its exhibition  gave the WPB the confidence that becoming a sponsor was the most cost effective and efficient way to meet the WPB Master Plan goals.

"As a member of the WPB SSA Arts and Guide Development Committees, we are thrilled to see the installation of 5 new public art sculptures this week. The WPB Master Plan called for the reinforcement of the retail district and suggested public art as a viable strategy. This installation compliments the five murals commissioned last year, and working with LSE made the jury process, selection, and installation very quick and professional.


As Michael Grucza's creation begins, the house is installed first

"The WPB SSA#33 is updating the arts directory and will now update the map to include information about the artists and the location of the various public art works. The WPB Commissioners evaluate the progress implementing the WPB Master Plan, and I would like to see more program activities extended to the north end of the district in the next five years," says Laura Weathered, Exec. Dir., Near NorthWest Arts Council.

Aimed at enhancing the local environments, the exhibit gives artist's an opportunity for more exposure over the year that the pieces will be displayed on the streets of Chicago. "We were able to increase the number of pieces this year because we have more sponsors," explains Barbara Guttman, the maven of the event having been the Director since 2002. She and Bennett Lawson, from the office of 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney, have shared the responsibility since 2007.


With just the right light, the house in the box is visible in Grucza's yet unfinished piece in Wicker Park

Reaction to the pieces in the area have included more positive the negative comments. One of the people who helps with the Wicker Park gardens is an African American from the south. The Michael Grucza piece took him back to his childhood in the south. The house looks like a "shotgun house." It is a structure type that was prevalent from the mid to late 1860s (after the Civil War) through the 1920s in the south, though there are examples in Chicago as well.

On the whole people are excited to see the sculptures, saying, "Oh that is new and different!" or "That is cool….!" Ed Tamminga, former resident of the 43rd Ward, former President of the Wicker Park Committee (WPC) and current WPC chair of the Preservation and Development Committee says, "I think it is a privilege for Wicker Park to regain some of its artistic panache with the installation of this sculpture.  I’ve been familiar with the Lakefront Sculpture program in the past in the 43rd Ward, and I can say it is a compliment for Wicker Park to be included.  Certainly there will be skeptics of the sculptures, but they are what they are and that includes being provocative. "

Take a tour around the area and share your comments below or on Our Urban Times' Facebook page.




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