A Year of Public Art in the Parks

 

Brought to us by Tess Landon, Special Project Assistant with the Chicago Park District's Department of Cultural & Natural Resources

 Photograph by Jenny Kendler

Photograph by Jenny Kendler

OVER THE PAST YEAR, we've loved sharing stories and photographs of the Chicago Park District's public art initiatives with you in celebration of the citywide Year of Public Art. And what a year it has been! In 2017, the Park District installed 52 new works of public art in more than 40 parks across the city. From a three story orchid to an acrobat made out of kitchen utensils to a "strange" figure near Foster beach, these artworks have given Chicagoans and visitors new ways to enjoy the lakefront and neighborhood parks, and of course, great opportunities for selfies! Check out some highlights from 2017 below. 


 Photo (c) Sandra Steinbrecher 2017

Photo (c) Sandra Steinbrecher 2017

As part of our annual collaboration with EXPO Chicago, two new monumental sculptures were installed in Grant Park. Isa Gensken's Two Orchids (above) and Bernar Venet's Disorder: 9 Uneven Angles (right) are exciting additions to the collection of sculptures by world renowned artists along the lakefront and downtown. 

 Photo (c) Sandra Steinbrecher 2017 

Photo (c) Sandra Steinbrecher 2017 


  Sculpture-->Garden  during a controlled burn of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. Photograph by Eric Anderson.

Sculpture-->Garden during a controlled burn of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. Photograph by Eric Anderson.

On each of the four solstices in 2017, a set of biodegradable eco sculptures by Chicago artist Jenny Kendler were installed in natural areas around the city - at Northerly Island, in two sites along the Burnham Wildlife Corridor, and at Steelworkers Park. The sculptures, based off of the classic Venus de Milo, are made entirely from natural materials like clay and dirt mixed with native seeds. The intention for the project is that as the sculptures biodegrade the seeds will disperse and transform them into gardens. We look forward to seeing the project progress. 


   Abiola Akintola  ,  Compensate

Abiola Akintola, Compensate

   Carl Billingsley  ,  Mid Summer Gate  (Image via Chicago Sculpture Exhibit)

Carl Billingsley, Mid Summer Gate (Image via Chicago Sculpture Exhibit)

 

The Park District has again partnered with Chicago Sculpture Exhibit to bring four new, lively sculptures to park sites. 

 

 Photo (c) Sandra Steinbrecher 2017 

Photo (c) Sandra Steinbrecher 2017 

 

When Thomas Houseago's Large Walking Figure I was installed along the lakefront near Foster beach, it caused quite a stir with patrons calling it "strange" and comparing it to something from a Tim Burton movie. But that doesn't mean they didn't like it! As one onlooker told DNAInfo, "I thought that it was a strange piece, but I like strange." 


Ten new trees were installed as part of the fourth annual Chicago Tree Project in collaboration with Chicago Sculpture International. The Chicago Tree Project is a citywide effort to transform sick and dying trees into vibrant works of public art. Instead of cutting down dead trees, many of which have been killed by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer beetle, artists carve, paint, and adorn the trees and give them new life as works of art. For more details and a map of tree locations, visit www.chicagotreeproject.org

   Anthony Heinz May  ,  Natura Non Confundenda Est , McKinley Park (progress shot)

Anthony Heinz May, Natura Non Confundenda Est, McKinley Park (progress shot)

   Janet Austin  ,  The A"Maze"ing Larvae of the Emerald Ash Borer , Palmer Square, photograph by Janet Austin 

Janet Austin, The A"Maze"ing Larvae of the Emerald Ash Borer, Palmer Square, photograph by Janet Austin 

   Nick Goettling  , Jackson Park 

Nick Goettling, Jackson Park 


 

As the Year of Public Art comes to a close, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has designated 2018 the Year of Creative Youth in Chicago. We're excited to see the creativity of our city's amazing young people and the organizations that serve them highlighted through this new initiative. 

Make sure to stay connected with the Chicago Park District through our website, Facebook, and Instagram for public art news in 2018! 

 
 
Michaele Strauch