Yoko Ono sheds no light on new art piece in Jackson Park
By Chicago Tribune staff
JUNE 12 2015
Yoko Ono had much love for Chicago on Friday as she joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel to announce a public art installation she will design for Jackson Park but shed no light on what the piece, titled "SKY LANDING," will look like once it goes in next year.
After scholars spoke at the event about the historical ties between Chicago and Ono's native Japan that led Japan to donate the park's Phoenix Pavilion during the 1893 World's Fair, the artist said she had learned new things about the relationship between the two places.
Sky Landing," an installation that marks Yoko Ono's first permanent art piece in the Americas, was announced with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for 2016. (WGN-TV)
"It's almost like Chicago and Japan, that there's an incredible, incredible, intense opening of the heart from the Chicago end, and I didn't know that," Ono said. "It's almost like, the intensity is almost insane. And I think, 'Wow, this is incredible.' "
She did not discuss the specifics of the project.
Chicago Park District CEO Michael Kelly said he and his staff are largely in the dark about the work by Ono, which will be her first permanent public art installation in the Americas, beyond the fact that it will be paid for and maintained through a fundraising effort and involve no public money.
On Friday, a pair of grassy mounds rose from the expanse in the park where Ono's piece will sit. Kelly said the wHY architecture firm created the mounds in collaboration with Ono but didn't know much else about "SKY LANDING."
"I don't know. All I know is it's going to be one with the land and the sky," he said. "In fact, they're taking great care in staying mum on it, and all I can tell you is it's going right over here."
The Ono piece will be part of a broader ongoing renovation of Jackson Park, including ecological restoration and a return to how it looked when it was originally designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.
Emanuel said Friday that he envisions the installation becoming "a place of congregation and contemplation."
"We will be most honored with the only place in the Americas with her artwork, and I want to thank you for choosing Chicago for that," the mayor said as Ono, John Lennon's widow, looked on in drizzly weather under a tent next to where the installation will go.
Emanuel also used the occasion to launch "the 50 for 50 campaign," in which he said the city will seek to install a new piece of public art in all 50 wards. "In every part of the places throughout the city where we're building either a new train station, rehabbing or rebuilding a park, we're going to add art pieces so those public spaces are reclaimed by the public and then enriched in experience of the art," he said.
"SKY LANDING" will be installed next year just north of one of the locations being considered for the Obama presidential library.
"The installation … is set to be open to the public in June of 2016," Emanuel's office said in a news release. "The installation will become a place of congregation and contemplation and will be installed in harmony with the revitalized landscape of Jackson Park in the Garden of Phoenix."
Executives with Project 120 Chicago, a public-private partnership with the Chicago Park District overseeing the work, said Ono chose the location after visiting the park in 2013, when more than 120 cherry trees were planted. Cherry tree blossoms are an iconic springtime feature of Japan.
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Osaka Garden entrance
Osaka Garden columbine
Osaka Garden waterfall