Yoko Ono’s first permanent public art installation in the Americas debuted Monday in Chicago’s Jackson Park.
The Sky Landing sculpture and landscape was constructed in an area of the park dedicated to Japan-U.S. relations. Ono, 83, was born in Tokyo, Japan, and spent much of her childhood in New York.
The installation consists of 12 steel lotus petals and mounds that form the yin yang symbol to symbolize peace.
Ono gave what she called an affirmation at the dedication.
“In the name of truth, peace and love, our planet is healthy and whole,” Ono said. “We the people of earth see clearly, hear clearly, think clearly, make the right judgement, right decision and the right move for the benefit of us, our planet and the universe.”
The ceremony included the release of the eight-track “Sky Landing” compact disc, featuring songs written by Ono and recorded by Chicago-based musician Tatsu Aoki, and the launch of the Sky Landing website. Aoki and jazz singer Dee Alexander performed at the ceremony.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen were among those in attendance for the unveiling.
Robert Karr Jr., president of the public-private Project 120 Chicago partnership, said Ono first visited Jackson Park’s Garden of the Phoenix in 2013. She held a “ground healing ceremony to prepare the site” June 12, 2015, according to a Project 120 press release.
Ono created a 13th steel lotus petal that will be dedicated at the Art Institute of Chicago Tuesday.
President Barack Obama’s Presidential Library is also scheduled to be built in the park.
But a group of neighbors known as Jackson Park Watch are concerned with the changes Project 120 is bringing to the South Side park. They say Ono’s installation came in without public input.
“It boggles our mind that a private organization could install a permanent sculpture in a public park without any kind of formal agreement or approval by the park board,” said Brenda Nelms, of Jackson Park Watch. “Whether the artwork is inspiring or will be valuable, I have no comment on that. That seems secondary to me as to how a private organization can install whatever it wants.”
Project 120 has been accused of not working with existing neighborhood groups. But officials have recently changed that and brought on board organizers to connect with South Side groups.
Natalie Moore is WBEZ's South Side reporter. Follow her @natalieymoore.