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A sizeable sculpture will soon be placed at the high-traffic corner of Harlem and Ontario in Oak Park. Anyone who wants a say in what the art looks like has until Friday.
In November, the Village of Oak Park announced it was looking for artists to compete for a $30,000 commission to build a sculpture at the southeast corner of the intersection by Trader Joe's. As part of an agreement inked with the village years ago, the developer who built the multistory apartment building on that location, Whiteco Residential, agreed to put up the money for a piece of public art. (Oak Park had spent about $2 million in cash as an incentive to build here.)
The deadline came and went last month, and Oak Park received responses from 24 different artists. The field has since been winnowed down to five by a committee from Whiteco and members of the volunteer Public Arts Advisory Commission.
The five finalist proposals are currently on display at village hall, 123 Madison St. Anyone interested in weighing in has until Friday at 5 p.m. to vote on their favorite sculpture, said Loretta Daly, business services manager for the village. Voters won't directly decide the finalist, but will help inform the commission and village board when they make their final determination — hopefully on Feb. 21.
David Sokol, chairman of the commission, said he was somewhat disappointed with the number of respondents after the village sent out notices about the contest to all major art schools and organizations in the area. Picking the best was a challenge, as the corner is relatively small, and commissioners didn't want to OK a tall sculpture.
"We could not, in good conscience, provide a platform for a potential burglar into someone's unit," he said.
Oak Park hopes to have the sculpture installed sometime in May or June, according to Daly.