Sculpture of Grant Park
In response to a recent inquiry -- no, I don't want Grant Park -- or any park -- to be just "flowers and butterflies" --- I want figure sculpture and plenty of it -- but it doesn't have to be ugly-confrontational-depressing-alientated (like the army of 9-foot zombies now being installed by Magdalena Abakanowicz)
If I had my way -- a premier-center-showplace park (like Grant Park in Chicago) would be full of the playful fancies like those by Marcel Francois Loyau installed in Buckingham fountain. (ironically enough -- for all the books of French sculpture I've looked at -- I'd never heard of that fellow -- and all these years I assumed the pieces were done Carl Milles)
Fountain of the Great Lakes
Continuing on that playful theme -- we have this Lorado Taft fountain installed against the notorious Ferguson Wing of the Art Institute (notorious -- because that administative wing was built with funds that were endowed specifically to commission and maintain public sculpture)
Here's one of the surrounding putti --- and I wish there were many more.
Lincoln, Head of State
But Grant Park has also been site of sculpture of a more somber note -- like this St. Gaudens masterpiece -- and that's O.K. too -- because power and dignity provide their own delightful pleasure.
I'm less enthusiastic about the Mestrovic "Spearman" and "Bowman" who guard the entrance at Michigan and Congress -- I don't feel they escape being over-sized toys. But at least their silhouettes promise a place of high-spirited fun -- like park might be.
Theodore Thomas Memorial
I'm also not enthusiastic about Albin Polasek's memorial to the first conductor of the Chicago Symphony -- maybe because this seems to be the muse of Bruckner instead of Mozart.
But I enjoy these detail reliefs around the base -- with a whimsical vision of a native Orpheus making music to buffalo, bear, and elk.
Overall -- there's not really that much sculpture in Grant Park.
There's a few innocuous small-fountain figures --- a tedious monument to Christopher Columbus -- and some other wretched contemporary stuff (that I'm hoping is just temporary)
But Magdalena Abakanowicz has become a big, international name in the contemporary artworld -- so I fear that her dreary, rusting hulks will be with us for a long time to come.
I understand why she was chosen: Chicago is the second largest Polish city in the world and Contemporary Art defines status in the world of Chicago's billionaire civic leaders.
But the problem is ----- we all have to look at it.