Above Image: Pier Walk’97.
Above Image..Photography by David Wagenaar. Image Courtesy: Michael Dunbar / Co-producer of Pier Walk.
In this age of internet if an event is not searchable online – especially if one cannot Google it – it can be considered as good as: It Never Even Happened! I am writing this especially in the context of large-scale sculptural exhibitions in Chicago that took place before the year 2000!! There is a lot of online searchable information on high profile installations like Pablo Picasso’s “Untitled” monumental sculpture in Daley Center Plaza, Marc Chagall’s “Four Seasons” and Alexander Calder’s “Flamingo”; but none of these sculptors were based in Chicago! Since a long time, I have been researching online on exhibitions where Chicago-based sculptors were involved; but there is hardly any information, with the exception of the highly successful Special Project “Cows on Parade” in 1999.
In my observation, year 2000 seems to be a good cut-off point. There is a lot of searchable data after 2000, and little before that year! For example there is scanty online information on Pier Walk which took place from 1995 to 2000; but there is plethora of information on Millennium Park, which opened in 2004. What a loss, since Pier Walk was a phenomenal success and a very important event in many ways!! By 1997, “Pier Walk” had evolved into world’s largest temporary outdoor sculpture exhibition, with participation of 110 artists, representing 9 countries! That’s a great feat! But it topped this achievement next year when Pier Walk’98 had 171 artists from 12 countries. Before that in 1982, there was “Mile of Sculpture” at Navy Pier, which was Chicago’s first international sculpture exhibition. Another landmark event was group exhibition in 1968, named “Eight American Sculptors”, in which five Chicago based sculptors participated who maybe called as members of first group Chicago sculptors practicing the then emerging international style of modern abstract sculptures – John Henry, Richard Hunt, Jerald Jacard, Edwin Strautmantis and Stephen Urry – although each one had their unique distinct style! Chicago was at the forefront of sculptural revolution post World War II period But since these sculptors were practicing before the internet revolution gathered momentum around the turn of the new millennium; so information on these exhibitions and events have not been digitized! Since these are not searchable online, it is like: It Never Even Happened!
Somehow the 1967-2000 phase interests me immensely!! After installation of Pablo Picasso’s monumental sculpture at Daley Center Plaza in 1967; Chicago was quickly dubbed as “museum without walls”, with a large number of monumental outdoor installations ! We adorned out public spaces with art works by nationally and internationally famed sculptors: Herbert Ferber, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Harry Bertoia, Isamu Noguchi, Claes Oldenburg, Henry Moore, Joan Miro, Louis Nevelson, Jean Dufuffet, Sol Lewitt, Ellsworth Kelley, and Mark di Suvero!!! But none of these were Chicago based! In my constant attempt to find out what was happening with Chicago based sculptors, I did find some information, which I am chronicling below.
Soon after the Second World War, there was significant shift in the style of sculptures from traditional figural to modern abstract. It was an international trend and Chicago was at the forefront! Some of the early names of Chicago-based sculptors who moved towards monumental abstract sculptures are : of Richard Howard Hunt, Steve Urry, John Henry, Jerry Peart, Jacques Jacquard, Terrence Karpowicz, Michael Dunbar, Mike Baur, Ed McCullough, Barry Hehemann and Bruce White. Proud to say, some of my friends – Barbara Cooper, Christine Rojek, Ginny Sykes, Nicole Beck – are in fact trail-blazers when it comes to changing gender dynamics, as these female artists earned some coveted public commissions of large-scale installations in hitherto male-dominated art scene! Unfortunately some prominent Chicago based sculptors have left Chicago – John Henry, Jerry Peart, Jacques Jacquard, Martin Pureyar, Mary Brogger and Dessa Kirk – however their invaluable contributions have to be remembered and celebrated! Also there are some sculptors who are not typically based in Chicago – but have immerse contribution here like Michael Dunbar and Preston Jackson!
So here are some important events on Chicago between 1967-2000!
It is far from complete! But I am posting this in the spirit of: if you know something, say something! Help me make this more comprehensive online searchable source..
Chicago Sculpture Scene 1967-2000
2000: Six American Sculptors in Rome Exhibition Rome, Italy.
Exhibition of outdoor sculpture by Christine Rojek, Mike Baur, Tom Scarff, Bob Emser, Virginio Ferrari and Michael Dunbar.
1995 – 2000: Pier Walk at Navy Pier
Co-produced by two sculptors Michael Dunbar and Terry Karpowicz, Pier Walk, a venue that challenged sculptors from around the world to exhibit their art work in Chicago. Over a six year period as many as 450 works by nationally and internationally known sculptors for exhibition at Chicago’s historic Navy Pier. It started in 1995, with exhibits from three artists!. Pier Walk’96, featured 42 artists from across the country. Pier Walk’97 grew further to become world’s largest temporary outdoor sculpture exhibition, with 110 artists from 9 countries. Pier Walk’97 was even bigger with 171 artists, from 12 countries. One of the highlights of Pier walk was to invite internationally acclaimed artists. In 1998 Mark di Suvero was invited from to Paris, France to premier his latest monumental sculpture “Mother Theresa”, in 1999 Anthony Caro was invited from London, England to premier “Goodwood Steps” and in 2000 Eduardo Chillida was invited from San Sebastian, Spain to premier, “Escuchando a la Piedra V”.
Pier Walk’95 – 3 artists
Pier Walk’96 – 42 artists, across the country.
Pier Walk’97 – 110 artists, from 9 countries / evolved into the world’s largest temporary outdoor sculpture exhibition.
Pier Walk’98 – 171 artists, from 12 countries
Pier Walk’99 –
Pier Walk’00 -
1992 to 1997: Sculpture for the New Millennium sculpture competition.
Over a five year period, the Art-in-Architecture program commissioned major outdoor sculptures by Ruth Duckworth, Richard Hunt, John Adduci, Mike Baur, Roger Blakley, Bill Carlson, Ed McCullough, Christine Martens, Terry Karpowicz, Tony Tasset, Dan Peterman, Peter Fagan, Dann Nardi, Steve Waldeck, Barry Tinsley, Steve Lueking, Christine Tarkowski, Gene Horvath, Bruce White, Tom Skomski, Patrick Mc Donald, Tom Scarff, Preston Jackson, Christine Rojek, and a number of other sculptors for public collections at universities and colleges throughout the State of Illinois.
1996: The King Drive Gateway Project.. click here.
“The King Drive gateway project is the keystone of an ongoing program to rejuvenate the Bronzeville Area”. The King Drive project was part of nearly ten years of building, renovation, and restoration involving more than $100 million in public funds invested to build cultural facilities and public art all located in the south side Chicago. The project had representatives from the community in the advisory committee, and also included artists from the area. The King Drive Gateway project is said to be instrumental in the designation of Chicago Landmark status to the Black Metropolis District in September 9, 1998. The artwork installed included, Alison Saar’s “Monument to the Great Northern Migration”, Mary Brogger’s “Recognition Panels”, Geraldine McCullough’s “Bronzeville Walk of Fame”, Gregg LeFevre’s “Bronzeville Street Map” and Bronzeville Benches by Various Artists.
1996: Horses, Rabbits and People Everywhere
Exhibition from May 3 through October 30, 1996; at Montgomery Ward Gardens, Grant Park, Chicago and Other Places Around the City. It featured 16 massive bronze sculptures which included Deborah Butterfield’s larger-than-life horses, Barry Flanagan’s whimsical hares and J.Seward Johnson’s human figures. Grant Park had Butterfield’s horses intermingle with Flanagan’s animated rabbits. Steward human figures were scattered at different public venues as diverse as the two major airports, Navy Pier, the Water Tower and City Hall. The crack-the-whip sculpture, which is now at Navy Pier, was a part of the exhibit. It was presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Chicago Park District. The exhibition was organized by Michael Lash, public art curator for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.
1995: 3-D Chicago
A not-for-profit organization committed to promotion and presentation of contemporary sculptors. It was instrumental in organizing the Pier Walk at Navy Pier.
1994: Botero in Chicago
Exhibition from April 29 through August 14, 1994 at the Montgomery Ward Garden in Grant Park. Presented by Department of Cultural Affairs and Chicago Park District in collaboration with the Marlborough Gallery. Featured sculptures by Colombian artist Fernando Botero.
1982: Mile of Sculpture at Chicago’s Navy Pier
1983: Mile II of Sculpture at Navy Pier
1982: Chicago’s first Chicago international sculpture exhibition, the Mayor Byrne’s Mile of Sculpture at Navy Pier. Included in the exhibit were Vito Acconci, Red Grooms, Richard Hunt, Donald Judd, William King, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheimer, Joel Perlman, Beverly Pepper, Martin Puryear, Mark di Suvero, and forty other sculptors.
1983: Mile II of Sculpture at Navy Pier.
1981 to 1986 / Illinois Collection for the State of Illinois Center
1981 to 1986, Commissioned major works by Don Baum, Roger Brown, Ruth Duckworth, Roland Ginzel, John Henry, Richard Hunt, Miyoko Ito, Ellen Lanyon, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, Carl Wirsum, Claire Zeisler and over a hundred other Illinois artists in painting, prints, drawing, photography, sculpture, fibers, ceramics and glass, specifically for the in Chicago.
1984-1985: Chicago Sculpture Society
created by Richard Hunt, Barry Tinsley, Steve Waldeck and Michael Dunbar organized a number of exhibitions in and around the Chicago area including the Chicago Sculpture Society exhibition at the Chain of Lakes Cultural Center, in Libertyville, in 1984 and the Centennial Sculpture Exhibition at Augustana Hospital at Chicago in 1985.
1979: Illinois % for Art Dedication Exhibition
A six month long exhibit, of large-scale outdoor sculpture for the grounds of the Illinois Department of Transportation Building. On display were sculptures by Illinois artists, Richard Hunt, Jerry Peart, Barry Tinsley, John Henry, Bruce White, Tom Scarff, Virginio Ferrari, Ed McCullough, Maryrose Carrol and a number of other Illinois sculptors.
1978: Chicago passes the percent-for-art ordinance
The 1978 Percent-for-Art Ordinance mandates that 1% [Since 1987, it is 1.33 %] of the construction or major renovation budget of a city-owned or city-financed building or structure or certain outdoor improvements is to used to acquire or install permanent artwork at that site. At least half of the works must be created by Chicago-area artists. The City of Chicago has over 500 works of art created by more then 300 artists. These are spread over 140 public spaces and municipal facilities across Chicago including libraries, police stations, fire stations, office buildings, health plazas and other public buildings.
1976: The Sculptor, The Campus, and The Prairie
“The Sculptor, The Campus, and The Prairie,” is presented by “The Governors State University Center for Monumental Sculpture.”
The groundbreaking exhibition includes work by seven sculptors arrayed across the campus. Bill Engbretson, first president of GSU retires.
Sculptors: Jerry Peart [Falling Meteor (1975)]; Jerald Jacquard [Oblique Angles (1973)];
Mark diSuvero [The Mohicans (1967) and Prairie Chimes (1968-690]; Edvins Strautmanis [Phoenix (1967-68)];
John Payne [MockII, V Forms (1976)]; Richard Hunt [Outgrown Pyramids (1973-74) and Large Planar Hybrid];
John Henry [Illinois Landscape #5 (1976)].
1975: Sculpture for A New Era
In Chicago federal Plaza. Jerry Peart created his first large scale sculpture for this show.
1973: Sculpture Off The Pedestal in Grand Rapids, Michigan [Sep 8 – Dec 3, 1973]
A landmark exhibition of outdoor public art called “Sculpture Off the Pedestal,”
brought 12 large-scale works of sculpture to downtown Grand Rapids in 1973.
Sculptors: Stephen Antonakos, Mark diSuvero, Dale Eldred, John Henry, Michael Hall, William King, Lyman Kip,
John Mason, Clement Meadmore, Boyd Mefferd, Robert Morris, Robery Murray, and Steven Urry.
It included “Split Ring,” by sculpture Clement Meadmore, which is now on display at 300 Ottawa,
the office of the Grand Rapids Symphony, downtown.
1968: Group Exhibition: Eight American Sculptors
The first group exhibition of modern large-scale abstract public sculptures, was held, right here, in Chicago, in 1968 in Pioneer Court. It was called “Eight American Sculptors”.
It included the work of five Chicago sculptors [John Henry, Richard Hunt, Jerald Jacard, Edwin Strautmantis and Stephen Urry],
two sculptors from New York [Mark di Suvero and Michael Steiner], and..
one sculptor from Detroit [Michael Hall].
I am still in the process of preparing two separate posts:
 Pier Walk [1995-2000]  Special Projects by the Visual Department of DCASE. [*The department’s name has changed so many times over the past few years, its difficult to keep track!]