Arts Council confirms artist for Robert Crown installation


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Architect Andy Tinucci walks the Evanston Arts Council through his design for the new Robert Crown Community Center. Tinucci will negotiate with artist Marc Fornes on a lower-cost piece.

James Pollard, Reporter

The Evanston Arts Council voted Tuesday to select internationally recognized artist Marc Fornes for a public art installation in the Robert Crown Community Center.

Fornes, an internationally known sculptor, proposed an illuminated 20-foot-tall aluminum sculpture that doubles as a stage. His pitch won over both the Arts Council and the art selection committee, which reviewed 261 applicants, according to Andy Tinucci, principal architect at Woodhouse Tinucci Architects.

At a meeting in April, the council said it was looking for integrated, interactive, social and community-based art for the community center. If his piece is approved, Fornes will have until the spring of 2020 for installation.

Tinucci has served as a liaison between the city and Fornes throughout the artist selection process. He said Fornes’ piece exemplified the four qualities the Arts Council sought, and added that the proscenium could be used as a stage for community-based events and performances by groups such as the Evanston Symphony Orchestra.

“This art piece itself makes a place and marks a place,” Tinucci said. “It represents the flow of energy and enthusiasm.”

Though Fornes estimated his piece would cost $400,000, only $325,000 of the city’s $400,000 budget for public art at the Robert Crown Community Center is left for his project. The council voted to send Tinucci to negotiate with the artist and lower his price. Though the council approved Fornes as the artist, they will vote at a later date on whether to confirm the cost and vision of Fornes’ lower-cost piece.

“Maybe we can’t afford exactly what he came up with,” said Beth Adler, co-chair of the Evanston Arts Council. “Maybe there might be something a little more contained but with the same spectacularness.”

In July 2018, the city broke ground on the Robert Crown Community Center, which is set to open at the end of the year. The new center will include two ice rinks, turf fields, a daycare center and a branch of the Evanston Public Library.

Even though the council voiced an interest in finding alternative funding for the project beyond the allocated budget for public art, Tinucci expressed concern about fundraising in Evanston because neither Tinucci nor the arts council wants to compete with Friends of the Robert Crown Center, a fundraising organization currently seeking donations for the community center as a whole.

Lisa Corrin, a member of the Arts Council and director of the Block Museum at Northwestern, expressed her frustration over funding issues for the project. To lower expenses, she suggested cutting the lighting.

However, Corrin described Fornes’ art installation as the only applicant that “rises above meh.”

“We may have to make some adjustments in our aspirations to be able to actually get a good-looking work of art,” Corrin said.

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