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Flossmoor Public Art Commission report highlights sculpture changes planned for 2024

Nancy Burrows, left, chair of the Flossmoor Public Art Commission, describes a proposed new sculpture by Homewood-Flossmoor High School artists that is slated to be placed on the south lawn of the Flossmoor Public Library later this year.
(Eric Crump photos/H-F Chronicle)

Flossmoor’s sculpture collection is likely to see several key changes in 2024 after the village board approved a proposal from the Public Art Commission at the Dec. 18 board meeting.

Public Art Commission Chair Nancy Burrows presented the plan, which includes one sculpture move, one removal, and three new pieces.

The sculpture on the south lawn of Flossmoor Public Library, “Kinetic Vision,” was created by Homewood-Flossmoor High School art students and installed in 2016. It was supposed to remain there for three years, but the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the original schedule, Burrows said.

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In spring 2024, the sculpture will be relocated to the corner of Scott Crescent and Lawrence Crescent near Heather Hill School for three years.

“We have wanted to have a piece near Heather Hill School for some time,” Burrows said. “Part of our goal is for these elemtnary school students to see what high school students — what they themselves will be in a few years — can aspire to.”

At the library, “Kinetic Vision” will be replaced by diamond-shaped “Centennial,” another piece by H-F student artists. The title is a nod to Flossmoor’s centennial in 2024.

The design was inspired by H-F art teacher Greg Petecki’s research of centennial celebrations and by the style of sculptor Claes Oldenburg, who was known for “large-scale replicas of every day objects,” Burrows said.

“The idea of a diamond caught their attention for both its value and the idea of Flossmoor, a hidden gem,” she said. “I think you can picture racers in the Hidden Gem (half marathon) race this coming year and the next few years, enjoying selfies at this sculpture.”

“Centennial” is expected to be 6 to 7 feet tall and 6 feet in diameter. It will be made of 2-inch thick steel tubing. The village Public Art Fund will pay a $2,000 honorarium for the piece.

Trustee Jim Mitros wondered about the engineering aspect of the installation. In the image shown to the board the bottom of the diamond shape appeared narrow and the structure was tilted slightly.

Art commission member Michael Cheney, who is the liaison to the high school class that will create the piece, said the design had accounted for stability and safety. He said the structure would be welded to a steel plate at the base, with upright pieces spaced about 12 inches apart.

The commission’s plan also includes a new installation location, adding a three-piece set of sculptures to the northwest corner of Brassie Avenue and Flossmoor Road.

Each piece in the untitled set is valued at $45,000, but the artist, William J. O’Brien, has offered to donate them to the village, Burrows said. That means the cost to the village art fund is expected to be about $600 for installation, plus several hundred dollars for solar lighting.

She said the location was chosen to help with a commission goal of creating walking tours of village art. The corner of Brassie and Flossmoor Road will provide a link between “Survivor” at the intersection of Western Avenue and Flossmoor Road and “Red Cross Lines” in front of Park Place  at 2523 Flossmoor Road.

Each piece in the set is 8.5 feet tall, 2 feet wide and 2 feet deep. The installation will be set back from the street in the interest of traffic safety.

Trustee Rosalind Mustafa said she liked the piece and the location but wondered about choosing a new location “while we have requests for pieces at existing locations,” including the park in the Ballantrae neighborhood.

“These pieces are very straight up and down. The area where they are being put is a bit of a confined looking area so it can support it,” Burrows said. “In an area that would be very open, they would possibily be lost. We are always looking at locations we know of but working to match at the same time. This stood out as being the spot.”

She noted that the commission has not forgotten the Ballantrae request and will continue discussions about it.

Mitros said he really liked the colors of the untitled O’Brien sculptures and supported the location.

“A lot of people will get to see it,” he said. “It’ll be like our own little Flossmoor Stonehenge.” He was referring to the famous ancient stone monument in England.

“Marmeg,” currently installed in Leavitt Park, will be leaving
the Flossmoor sculpture garden this year.

The village will also bid farewell to “Marmeg,” which has been a fixture at Leavitt Park for years, Burrows said. It will be removed during the spring.

“Marmeg” will be replaced by a Fritz Olsen sculpture, “Eternal Flame.” The stainless steel piece is 10 feet, 10 inches tall and 30 inches wide. The cost will be $3,000 for a three-year lease.

Burrows said Olsen now works in Michigan but used to have a studio on Goose Island in Chicago. She credited art commission member Charlene Gordon with making connection with Olsen, which led to the loan of “Eternal Flame” to the village.

“Uplifted” by the late Richard Hunt is part of the Flossmoor sculpture garden in Leavitt Park.

Burrows began her remarks with a tribute to renowned Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt, who died Dec. 16. She noted that Flossmoor owns one of his pieces, “Uplifted,” which is located in Leavitt Park. Hunt partially funded the sculpture, which is dedicated to his late wife.

She read a quote from a tribute to Hunt by former President Barack Obama. 

“Richard Hunt was an acclaimed sculptor and one of the finest artists ever to come out of Chicago. Michelle and I are thinking of Richard’s family today — and we are eternally grateful that his sculpture, ‘Book Bird,’ will sit outside a new branch of the Chicago Public Library at the Obama Presidential Center. It will be an inspiration for visitors from around the world, and an enduring reminder of a remarkable man.”

Trustee George Lofton planted the idea that if the village ever has an opportunity to obtain another Hunt sculpture, he would urge the commission to place it in Ballantrae.

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