WBEZ | Chicago Sculpture International http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-sculpture-international Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Lakefront sculpture: Is mediocre art obstructing a beautiful view? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-10/lakefront-sculpture-mediocre-art-obstructing-beautiful-view-103001 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F62832934&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;color=ffe12b" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6384_chicago industrial-scr.jpg" style="height: 224px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="This fall's art trend: sculpture! Chicago Industrial, Marshall Svendsen (WBEZ/Alison Cuddy)" />Every fall has its trends, and Chicago is no exception. In fashion, nail art, fur hats and fancy denim are all the rage. In pop culture, people are talking about the return of two beloved icons, Big Bird and MySpace. And in art? It&rsquo;s all about the sculpture.</div></div><p>New sculptural exhibitions have recently opened in <a href="http://www.chicagoartistsmonth.org/featured-events/installation-experiment">Pilsen storefront</a>s and on the <a href="http://www.lpcai.org/">parks and streets </a>of some North Side neighborhoods. But the most visible collection can be found along Chicago&rsquo;s lakefront: <a href="https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;oe=UTF8&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=212481059803623754745.0004c98c32738d8413347">53 works</a> lining the stretch between the Museum Campus on the south and Lakeview on the north.</p><p>The works are varied, both literal and conceptual, and made out of stone, metal and wood. But reaction to them, at least through my informal and completely unscientific survey of friends and acquaintances, was universal: Not good. Ugly. Obstructions impeding the beautiful lake view.&nbsp;</p><p>I have to admit, I was more than sympathetic to this perspective. Every night as my bus crawled past the large red work resembling an elongated grasshopper, the confusing cluster of silver festooned with blue ornaments, the strange wooden billboard whose message I could not decipher, I&rsquo;d think: Why?</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6385_sculpture2-scr.jpg" style="float: right; height: 402px; width: 300px;" title="Surge, Jaci Willis (WBEZ/Alison Cuddy)" />It&rsquo;s not like the lakefront doesn&rsquo;t already have sculptures. But most of those are monuments to forgotten heroes or historic events, and have an appearance I think many of us would call &ldquo;traditional.&rdquo; I know they&rsquo;re worthy of investigation, but in the meantime, their presence is muted and respectable.</div><p>Not so this sudden sculptural onslaught of giant eagles and rusting hulks of metal. Still, I decided to get off my high horse (or bus) and see what those passing by thought.</p><p>Chicagoan Pam MacNamara described the work <em>Chicago Industrial</em> as &ldquo;menacing, and not pretty.&rdquo; Joshua Worthington from Louisville, Ky., thought <em>Brushy Mountain</em> should be renamed the &ldquo;hurt locker&rdquo; (a reference to the war film by Kathyrn Bigelow) and wondered if it had been &ldquo;put out for Halloween.&rdquo; Jennifer Cook, who has lived in the area for 25 years, said the same piece looked like an &ldquo;outhouse.&rdquo; Then, noting that park facilities were closed for the season, Cook laughed and said, &ldquo;Good lord, I hope nobody tries to use it!&rdquo;</p><p>Their varied reactions came as no surprise to Anna Cerniglia, who directs the local art gallery <a href="http://www.johallaprojects.com/">Johalla Projects</a> and has served on public art selection committees.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t really see this project as being cohesive,&quot; Cerniglia said. &quot;I see this as a big selection. Lots of artist submitted their work and then it was juried, which might be why people have a bad reflection on this. Because nothing really goes together, but it&rsquo;s <em>expected </em>to go together.&rdquo;</p><p>The exhibition was put together by <a href="http://chicagosculpture.wordpress.com/category/member-exhibits/">Chicago Sculpture International (CSI</a>) and draws on existing work by members of affiliate groups of sculptors. It was juried by well-known Chicago sculptor <a href="http://www.richardhunt.us/">Richard Hunt</a> and the Chicago Park District&#39;s <a href="http://www.garfieldconservatory.org/cpd_staff.htm">Adam Schwerner</a>. Schwerner&#39;s also the guy who had the idea to paint some of the park&#39;s dying trees - to turn them temporarily into sculptural objects (a cluster near the Lincoln Park rowing basin will come down later this fall).&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6387_billboard-scr.jpg" style="float: left; height: 224px; width: 300px;" title="Bas-relief Billboard, Christine Perri (WBEZ/Alison Cuddy)" />When I spoke with Schwerner, he said they were looking for &ldquo;a broad range of aesthetics&rdquo; and &ldquo;objects that would be attractive in a landscape.&rdquo; Other factors included location and ruggedness &ndash; these sculptures will be in place for at least a year.</div><p>When I asked why they put them on the lakefront, Schwerner said it was about access: Someone could ride the bike path and discover the works in a linear way and in one outing. That decision wasn&rsquo;t subject to public approval or input.</p><p>CSI funded the project (installation, removal and any damage to the park) and so, as Schwerner put it, the Park District was &ldquo;somewhat reliant on what their desires were to do this.&rdquo; That also explains why initially there were no sculptures on the south stretch of the bike path. But the Park District had a &ldquo;conversation&rdquo; with the organizers about re-thinking that decision, Schwerner says, because both the Park District and community members wanted to see that happen. CSI is now installing about a dozen more sculptures south of the Museum Campus.</p><p>Schwerner said otherwise, reaction to the sculptures has been &ldquo;almost entirely positive.&rdquo; A few people complained about having more sculpture in green, open spaces. And even Schwerner admitted to liking some works better than others. But he was firm in saying that this is the wave of the future at the Park District.</p><p>&ldquo;The Chicago Cultural Plan talks to wanting to have arts and culture out in the parks and throughout the city, and we want to encourage that. So this is just the beginning,&quot; he said.</p><p>That&#39;s something all of the people I spoke with will welcome. Pam McNamara enthused, &quot;I think the whole idea of doing the whole public art works is great. And I&#39;m sure there&#39;ll be many that I think will be wonderful.&quot; And Cole Hainz said as long as they&#39;re not obstrusive, he welcomed the work as a &quot;little surprise&quot; along his walk.</p><p>In that sense the exhibition has met Schwerner&#39;s expectations, which is to see it as an invitation of sorts, something he hopes will attract varied responses.</p><p>So here are my questions: If the Park District plans future partnerships with CSI or other private cultural organizations, will they invite public input? These works were put in place primarily to draw attention to the recent International Sculpture Center Conference, but Chicagoans will be living with them a lot longer. Schwerner emphasized multiple times that the exhibition didn&rsquo;t cost taxpayers anything, although a handful of aldermen and some local businesses provided sponsorship. But does that preclude public participation in determining how much and what kind of culture takes place on land that belongs not to a private entity but to the citizens of Chicago?&nbsp;</p><p>What do you think &ndash; of the sculptures themselves, and of the Park District&rsquo;s plans to do more of these exhibitions in the parks? Check out a slideshow of all the images <a href="http://www.timeoutchicago.com/things-to-do/chicago-blog/15734926/2012-2013-chicago-parks-outdoor-art-exhibition-photos-of-the-scul">here</a> - then I welcome your comments!</p></p> Tue, 09 Oct 2012 11:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-10/lakefront-sculpture-mediocre-art-obstructing-beautiful-view-103001 When someone else’s art lands in your neighborhood http://www.wbez.org/story/abductions/when-someone-else%E2%80%99s-art-lands-your-neighborhood <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Sculpture2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><b>Ten sculptors have put up outdoor pieces in Chicago&rsquo;s East Garfield Park neighborhood. The installation&rsquo;s supposed to stay up for a year. The group says the purpose is to expose people to art that they might not be able to see otherwise. But, then again, residents never asked for the opportunity. So what happens when someone else&rsquo;s art lands in your neighborhood? We report from our West Side bureau.</b><br /><br />Before looking into how the 10 pieces are going over in East Garfield Park, I ask Chicago sculptor Terrence Karpowicz to show them to me. He led the installation.<br /><br />MITCHELL: To me it looks like a huge, three-fingered claw. What is this?<br />KARPOWICZ: This is a sculpture by Fisher Stoltz titled &ldquo;Moonbench.&rdquo; I see it as a rendezvous point for the local community. They can actually come and sit down and converse.<br />MITCHELL: Yeah, there&rsquo;s a marble bench here.<br />KARPOWICZ: Actually it&rsquo;s granite. There is an electrical element that lights up at night so that the white marble sphere glows. Come on and sit down.<br />MITCHELL: Yeah, now that we&rsquo;re sitting down, this granite is very cold on my fat rear end.<br />KARPOWICZ: It warms up in summertime.<br /><br />The sculptures stand as high as 14 feet. They&rsquo;re spanning a half-mile boulevard called West Franklin for the next year. The artists are all members of a group called Chicago Sculpture International.<br /><br />Karpowicz takes me to a pile of rings made of industrial tubing.<br /><br />KARPOWICZ: That&rsquo;s a sculpture by Dusty Falwarczny. The title of the sculpture is &ldquo;Scrap.&rdquo; I measure that one as, probably, a three-shopping-cart operation.<br />MITCHELL: You measure the volume by shopping carts?<br />KARPOWICZ: That&rsquo;s how many shopping carts it&rsquo;ll take to get that to a scrap yard. Because you see a lot of hardworking men with shopping carts and they pick up debris and take it to recycling places.<br />MITCHELL: Have you ever lost one of your works to shopping carts?<br />KARPOWICZ: No, thank goodness.<br /><br />And there&rsquo;s more to see. Karpowicz shows me a giant, spiky sphere made of orange traffic cones. And there&rsquo;s a stainless-steel piece called &ldquo;Abduction.&rdquo;<br /><br />The installation is definitely capturing attention in the neighborhood.<br /><br />MAN: Oh, man, that&rsquo;s cool. Who did that?<br />WOMAN: It beautifies the neighborhood.<br />MAN: It&rsquo;s really nice for the block.<br />GRANT: I like them.<br />MITCHELL: What&rsquo;s your name?<br />GRANT: My name is Felincia Grant.<br />MITCHELL: Do any of the pieces stick out to you -- that you can really relate to?<br />GRANT: The one that&rsquo;s all the way down on Franklin and Kedzie. It looks like a hook. Actually, to be honest with you, I had a nephew that was--there used to be a tree there. My nephew ran into this tree. And that&rsquo;s where he died. And that piece, right there, it was put where the tree was.<br />MITCHELL: Does it remind you of him?<br />GRANT: Yeah. He had these hooked attitudes at times. He made a lot of bad choices. But he was a good kid.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s easy to find people who admire at least some of the 10 new sculptures in East Garfield Park. It&rsquo;s harder to find folks who have a beef with the installation, but they are around.<br /><br />FIELDS: My name is Cy Fields.<br /><br />Fields is pastor of New Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, a few blocks southeast of the parkway.<br /><br />FIELDS: It seems like they just plopped artwork in the community and just sort of said, &lsquo;Well, here it is and, surprise, I hope you enjoy it.&rsquo; I&rsquo;m not against community beautification and artwork, but I think the process and the end goal are very important. Many schools are struggling to have art classes in the schools. Can the artists come and teach the kids in East Garfield Park? Communities of color--African American and Latino--have their share of capable artists. Will their artwork be able to go to the North Side or to other communities as well? Let&rsquo;s have a cultural exchange.<br /><br />Fields isn&rsquo;t the only one talking about race. An unemployed interior decorator named Tony Green wants to know why the sculptures ended up in his neighborhood.<br /><br />GREEN: Only in the black community with no blacks involved. That&rsquo;s not personal, is it?<br /><br />These are fair questions. Karpowicz&rsquo;s group got an alderman&rsquo;s approval to put the sculptures up. But the group did not work with residents to choose the art or get them involved any other way.<br /><br />MITCHELL: How about helping artists in this community display their art here on the boulevard?<br />KARPOWICZ: Well, if those artists were members of Chicago Sculpture International, which they certainly can become part of, they&rsquo;d be the first ones on the list. It&rsquo;s not about shutting anybody out. It&rsquo;s about inclusivity.<br /><br />But then Karpowicz tells me the group&rsquo;s got a hundred and forty-nine members and not one is African American.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Why is that? Something like a third or 40 percent of the population here in the city is African American. <br />KARPOWICZ: We don&rsquo;t reach out, we don&rsquo;t publicize. As a result of an exhibition like this, if there are sculptors out there who happen to be African American [and] they want to be sculptors, the door is open. It&rsquo;s always open.<br /><br />He points out annual memberships cost only 25 dollars.<br /><br />Karpowicz and I keep talking as he shows me some sculptures toward the end of the parkway. He reminds me they&rsquo;ll be up in East Garfield Park only a year.<br /><br />KARPOWICZ: A lot of the people who live around here probably wouldn&rsquo;t venture downtown to see sculpture. And this is our opportunity, as part of the sculpture community of Chicago, to bring art to the communities.<br />MITCHELL: Where we&rsquo;re standing right now, we&rsquo;ve got a vacant lot on this side and we&rsquo;ve got another vacant lot we&rsquo;re standing in right now. The population here--they&rsquo;re not going to be buying these pieces afterwards.<br />KARPOWICZ: No, they probably won&rsquo;t, Chip, but I think they&rsquo;ll appreciate art a lot more. They&rsquo;ll appreciate sculpture. Next time they see a piece of art, they&rsquo;ll say, &lsquo;Oh yeah, we had one of those in our neighborhood once.&rsquo;<br /><br />If this installation works out, Karpowicz says his group&rsquo;ll try to bring sculptures to other Chicago boulevards. Next time, he says, the artists will try harder to get the neighborhood involved.</p></p> Wed, 08 Dec 2010 22:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/abductions/when-someone-else%E2%80%99s-art-lands-your-neighborhood