Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park

Between the North Shore Channel (pictured yesterday) and the busy McCormick Blvd., there's a long strip of parkland, and by long, I mean two miles or so. It's the home of the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park.

Its web site discusses its origin: "The land [owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago] had been sorely neglected for a number of years and was by the mid-1980s a community eyesore. The district developed guidelines and wanted suggestions for its improvement. The Village of Skokie came forward with plans to turn the area into a recreational park with biking and jogging paths, seating areas, etc. At the same time, a group of private citizens proposed using the park to display large-scale contemporary sculptures.

"What evolved by 1988, was... a collaboration between these two entities. The village cleaned and landscaped the area and created parking lots, pathways, benches and other amenities. The citizens incorporated as a private not-for-profit organization with a mission to select, install and maintain a world-class sculpture exhibition..."

I never met a sculpture park I didn't like, so we spent some time looking around. But it is a two-mile park, so we didn't see all of it, only the section just south of Dempster. We took in plenty of intriguing works all the same. My own favorite was "La Souterraine," a collection of iron beams fixed to the ground and topped by portraits of faces, also in iron and roughly at eye level, that look all the world like death masks.

Though (seemingly) reposed in death, almost all of the faces are streaked or spotted with bird droppings.

The artist is Robert Smart of Minneapolis, about whom a simple Google search turns up only a little, and I'm not willing to dig deeper for non-paying writing. But I'd say the man has some talent.

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