Sunday, October 11, 2009

Item from the Past: Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park

Some years ago I posted about visiting the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park at Governors State University in the southern exurbs of Chicago in October 2002, but I hardly did the place justice. After all, you can find works such as Flying Saucer there, impressive in its sheer weird bulk.

It's hard to tell from a picture, but the thing is a few feet taller than an adult human being. The park's web site says of the piece, by Jene Highstein: "Flying Saucer grew out of a group of works created between 1976–77. Large spherical sculptures were made by hand-troweling concrete over an armature of wood or steel. All were painted black. An untitled example of these works remains in front of the student union at the University of Chicago in Hyde Park."

Then there's Phoenix, by the late Edvins Strautmanis, better known for painting with brooms.

"Originally commissioned in 1967 for a Hyde Park apartment complex, the work was rejected by the apartment building inhabitants," notes the Nathan Manilow web site. "They found its monumental size and abstract design inappropriate. Lewis Manilow, owner of the building, called Bill Engbretson [then GSU president] and let him know that the sculpture was available. United States Steel supplied the flatbed used to ship Phoenix to its new home in the southern suburbs."

This piece, about three stories high, is the curiously named Yes! For Lady Day by the prolific Mark di Suvero. Again from the Manilow web site: "Yes! For Lady Day was created over a period of two summers while diSuvero lived in a farmhouse on what was to become the GSU campus... Yes! For Lady Day was constructed of salvaged steel I-beams and a railroad tank car that was cut at a diagonal ellipse by the artist. DiSuvero’s distinctive approach has created an object of brutal beauty that dances in the prairie breeze."

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