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By Anna Lothson
The culture of Oak Park was certainly on display over the weekend.
In addition to the annual Wright Plus housewalk, A Day in Our Village, and the Uncork Illinois wine event, the first summer outdoor sculpture walk was introduced.
The 12-sculpture display that starts at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St. — and runs west along Lake Street to Forest Avenue, then north toward Chicago Avenue —officially opened Saturday but Oak Parkers can enjoy the exterior exhibit until Oct. 18.
The sculpture walk, organized by the village's Public Art Advisory Commission, includes Terrence Karpowicz's steel and polymer "Finish," Don Lawler's Indiana limestone "Entwined Seedlings," and Andrew Arvanetes' stainless steel "Once Around the Block." Oak Park's own Margot McMahon has her "Hawk and Dove," casted marble statues, featured in front of 216 Forest Ave.
"It was a great way to add another layer of culture to the events going on," said Loretta Daly, business services manager for Oak Park, who took the recommendation from the commission for an art walk. "We tried to create something that pays homage to that group but helps us introduce arts on a more rotating basis."
There were no theme restrictions for the sculptures of this year's inaugural event, which brought in 28 submissions. The works were narrowed down to the select 12 that will be part of a new tradition.
"We got incredible enthusiasm and cooperation," Daly said, referring to the reactions of local businesses and residents to the exhibit. "It was something that was incredibly embraced."
One reason the group will maintain the sculpture walk through much of the fall is that the International Sculpture Center Conference will be hosted in Chicago in October. David Sokol, chair of the Public Art Commission for Oak Park, said the group hopes to draw fellow sculpture enthusiasts to Oak Park during the event.
Sokol said the idea stemmed from a conversation between McMahon and Village President David Pope, who agreed it would be good to get the village involved. Pope was able to secure permission from private homeowners and other organizations.
He said the specific placement of each piece was important since the geometry and fluidity needed balance.
"It's sort of nice to see the work against the backdrop of any of these buildings. I think it further enriches the aesthetic experience of being here," Sokol said, noting that people will come for the architecture or the art and some will come for both. "It complements two things. … It enhances the community. It enhances the quality of life by spending a modest amount of money."
As an Oak Park sculptor, McMahon, who has shown her work in notable galleries and exhibits across the state, is honored to be part of the walk, especially since her hometown is one of her favorite places to showcase her work.
"It just enhances the exposure for the artists as well as gives the architecture lovers one more thing to experience," she said. "They are all giving a new facet to what Oak Park has. We've got the architecture from Wright. We've got the literature from Hemingway. Now we've got the sculptures from the community."