Sculpture picked for high-traffic Oak Park corner

'Arched Rings' will dress up Harlem and Ontario intersection

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Don’t be surprised if you see a bright red ball of rings pop up on the corner of Harlem and Ontario in the not-too-distant future.

After a brief competition over the last few months, Oak Park has finally picked a sculpture to place at the high-traffic intersection near Trader Joe’s. Dubbed “Arched Rings,” the piece — created by Oak Park artist Patrick McDonald — is about 10 to 12 feet high, 6 feet wide and constructed of red painted steel.

Village hall started the contest back in November, looking for sculptors to dress up the corner. Developer Whiteco Residential had agreed, when they built the multistory apartment building on the corner, to contribute $30,000 toward the piece of public art.

Altogether, 26 artists submitted to the contest. The Oak Park Public Art Advisory Commission whittled the field down to five, and held a public vote on the finalist. The commission agreed with the public’s pick, and the village board is set to approve “Arched Rings” on Tuesday night.

“Some people may not like its bright, bright color, but it stands out against the comparatively neutral-to-grayish background there,” David Sokol, head of the commission, said Monday.

Oak Park hopes to have the sculpture installed by late May.

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Nancy from Oak Park  

Posted: February 27th, 2011 11:39 AM

Whose brilliant idea? "Art" though it may be, it's foolish to add a distraction which will compete for drivers' attention on Harlem Avenue.


Posted: February 26th, 2011 2:36 AM

That intersection is high-trafficked by motorists, but public art such as this should be installed some place where pedestrians will see it.

OP Resident  

Posted: February 24th, 2011 12:48 AM

$30,000 from the developer and how much from Oak Park taxpayers? Do we own the piece or just leasing it with an option to buy? Who pays for installation? The Oak Park Art Advisory Commission should be able to share the details. Glad that the work of an Oak Park artist was selected.

Kelly from Oak Park  

Posted: February 23rd, 2011 10:48 PM

It's hard to debate such rigorously well-argued criticism as James', but I think an appropriate rejoinder would be: Cool! I agree that such a bold piece will be that much more striking against the subdued modernist box that is the Whiteco building.

tom broderick from oak park  

Posted: February 23rd, 2011 12:51 PM

I've seen a couple of finished pieces of sculpture by this sculptor. One in Chicago along the lake front park. I think the other was at Navy Pier. Neither had the bold color of this one, but I enjoyed both. When the five finalists went online through the Wednesday Journal, it was hard for me to visualize them as large pieces. Now that this one has one, I look forward to the unveiling.

David Hammond from  

Posted: February 23rd, 2011 11:27 AM

There's a venerable tradition of local populations hating public sculpture in their area, at least in the intial phases. Picasso's loop sculpture is the classic example: first loathed, now loved. James, you're entitled to your opinion, of course, and thanks for offering it, but I'm guessing this work will grow on you and all of us. It certainly is a bolt of color in a colorless environment.


Posted: February 23rd, 2011 11:12 AM


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