Friday, November 04, 2005

What's up with Chicago WhatKnot

As long time listeners of this blog know, I've been tracking the Lincoln Park Community Art Initiative's annual public sculptural exhibit for a while. To the right are two shots that I took of the heavy-duty piece that's camped out for the year (and possibly longer, read on) at the northwest corner of the intersection of Halsted, Fullerton, & Lincoln called Chicago WhatKnot.

The shimmery disks are a lovely surprise when the sun hits them right, and I like that it has an underwatery feel. I also like how the weight and size of the sculpture contrast so sharply with floral life, like urban flora, yet it fits right in.

I'm especially pleased and honored that the artist, Chicagoan Nicole Beck, was kind enough to share some thoughts about the piece via e-mail. Be sure to visit her website if for no other reason than to see her personal photo on the contact page. It's quite possibly the coolest shot ever of an artist.

Nicole Beck on her sculpture, Chicago WhatKnot:

Chicago What Knot is 8' diameter x 20' steel and custom-cast glass rondeles. I built the piece entirely by myself, except for the steel tube rolling which was done at Chicago Rolled Metal (the same company the rolled the stainless tube arcs that traverse the lawn of Gehry's band shell lawn structure in Millenium Park.)

But as you can see by investigating the piece up close, I had to make some pretty specific miter cuts to reposition the graceful line that the tubing makes, and especially to fit the site (the tubing could not be rolled any tighter because it was at the limits of the equipment.)

The Alderman Vi Daley and her committee knew during judging for this year's show that they wanted the sculpture on this site, so I built the sculpture to be "site specific," to fit the dimensions and the scale of the site nicely.
The sculpture was created in response to the Art in the Gardens Project . . . that I did last summer in Grant Park on Michigan Ave. @ Balbo across from the Hilton. I had created a 40'x 100' living sculpture with plants as my medium.

Most of the gardens in this city-wide public art project were created to be looked at, but my project Snake Gourd Chamber Maze was designed to have a Celtic knot looped garden path that the viewer could walk through to experience the full beauty of the garden. . . .

Chicago WhatKnot was a response to Snake Gourd Chamber Maze in STEEL & GLASS! . . . For Chicago WhatKnot, the tendrils at top were created separately and bolted into place for ease of shipping and then the cast glass is installed on site into customized gaskets that also bolt into place.

I think of the cast glass discs as water droplets randomly interspersed throughout the tendrils sprays OR as stars in the sky seen through the bare tree limbs of winter.

This sculpture was a departure for me in that the lines are playful and lyrical and dance in space (alot of my other pieces are hard-edged and geometrical) see my web site.

There is talk of wanting to keep this piece permanent for the neighborhood, or perhaps rebuilding the piece in stainless steel (but will cost much more for this, as stainless is a VERY expensive material these days.)

But, I hope that the funds are collected as I personally believe that this piece belongs at this site and is no wonder, since it was specially designed specifically for this place.

I especially appreciate the night lighting with spots on the sculpture that make the discs glow and sparkle.

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