Sculpture at Park 526

Have you seen the sculpture proposed for Park 526, the former theater at Devon & McCormick that will be named for former Ald. Bernie Stone?   Frankly, it just doesn’t appear to have any connection to our neighborhood.

[I think the alderman may have been a bit confused in her newsletter announcement, which stated there were three different proposals for the sculpture; it’s actually one piece with three parts. How closely is she working with DCASE if she doesn’t know that?]

The artist, Bernard Williams, is a highly acclaimed muralist and sculptor, but I think his design misses the mark. Intricate patterns may well fall upon the ground, but does this really “…suggest the complex nature of 50th ward community” as he says? The patterns may be found worldwide, but the piece itself could be placed anywhere in the City. It is not particularly evocative of West Ridge. Indeed, it resembles one of those pieces of generic “public art” that people simply don’t notice as they rush to and from work, lunch, and home. Don’t we want something memorable that captures the spirit of West Ridge?

I wonder why the commission wasn’t given to one of the many talented artists who live in the neighborhood who might have expressed the soul of West Ridge in a more distinctive way. Capturing and reflecting the neighborhood’s complexity is perhaps better accomplished by an artist who experiences that complexity every day. Maybe waiting to see if the park is used and who will be using it would have been a good idea. Given its distance from the rest of the neighborhood, the bridge crossing, and the decision not to include playground equipment, it could become little more than a landscaped vacant lot. Let’s hope not, but let’s not rush the artwork.

There’s no end to the goodies we’re going to see between now and the February 2019 election. The completion of the Devon streetscape, the opening of the new library practically on election day (you know it will be a polling place, just an added reminder of which mayor and which alderman brought it to the ward), and a sculpture in Park 526! The Wizard of Oz couldn’t have done it better.

Alas! No viable challenger in sight; none likely to surface, and the usual Munchkins lining up.

Time to find those ruby slippers.

4 thoughts on “Sculpture at Park 526

  1. I’ve seen two candidates “announce” on social media, though neither seem to have a formal campaign yet. At this point, I’d vote for anyone else (not wearing a maca hat)


    • I suspect you’re not the only one! It’s “not having a formal campaign yet” that’s telling: it is simply not possible to mount a credible campaign this late in the game. Potential candidates should have been creating a campaign organization last winter. The necessary infrastructure has to be in place–the volunteers who believe in a candidate enough to solicit petition signatures that will be largely challenge-proof; volunteers who will review every page of other candidate petitions for improper signatures and other errors that will result in successful challenges; a volunteer treasurer who will begin to make contacts for fundraising, etc. Large donors will not be found within the ward because there are too many horror stories about donors who’ve been visited by building inspectors. There are just too many moving parts to throw a campaign together at the last minute. Add to that–or start with–the most important question for any challenger – “What have you done to improve the 50th Ward in the last 2-4 years?” If any of the challengers has established a record of achievement within the ward, he/she needs to start talking about and adding to it.


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