Public Gets Voice on Sherman Plaza’s Final Touch

Ryan Wenzel

By Laura OlsonThe Daily Northwestern

The construction’s not quite over for Sherman Plaza.

The city’s Public Art Committee will soon make a final choice – with the help of the general public – for a public art piece to be displayed in front of the plaza.

The search has been narrowed to five finalists, chosen from a pool of 155 applications, said Jeff Cory, the city’s cultural arts director, who is helping with the selection of artwork. The selections were placed on the city’s Web site Friday to allow residents to submit comments about their favorite piece of art.

“There was a variety of criteria that the committee looked at,” Cory said. “The aesthetic was important, as was how unique the project was, how well it fit into the site, and whether it takes a lot of work to maintain – we wanted to choose a piece that would be pretty low maintenance.”

The artists – David Black of Ohio, Indira Freitas Johnson of Evanston, Robert McColgan of Ireland, G. Byron Peck of Washington, D.C., and Takashi Soga of Utica, N.Y. – came from a pool initially including people from 33 states and 11 countries.

The pieces themselves are just as diverse, ranging from modern-looking tower sculptures to a set of bronze carved chairs.

To narrow the pool down to five works, the Public Art Committee spent time in meetings beginning last spring, viewing slide upon slide of both serious and whimsical submissions.

The committee’s 10 voting members include businesspeople, artists, architects and others involved in building Sherman Plaza, Cory said.

The miniature sculptures will be on display at the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave., in two weeks, for Evanston Arts Week, and a discussion with the artists will also be held at the library on Oct. 11.

Funding for the project comes from the city’s percent-for-art program, Cory said. This fund is made up of 1 percent of the budget for any new municipal construction to create a piece of public art.

This piece was funded through the Sherman Plaza parking garage. Cory said the next project with similar funding will be artwork for the new station building planned for Fire Station No. 5.

“The public art committee also is working on a community-based art project, working with local communities in Evanston,” he said. “The goal is to see what would best enhance their neighborhoods and find artists who could execute the projects.”

Although polling for the Sherman Plaza art has only been open for a few days, Cory said the response has been varied and there is no current frontrunner for the spot.

Reach Laura Olson at [email protected]