JEFFERSON PARK — A 10-foot tall aluminum sculpture depicting two lovers swirled in a colorful embrace will be installed at Lawrence and Milwaukee avenues as part of this year's Chicago Sculpture Exhibit, organizers said.
The sculpture festival, which is designed to bring art to Chicago's neighborhoods, will expand from Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Bucktown to include Jefferson Park and Portage Park for the first time, said Eric Craig, one of the exhibit's organizers and a member of the 45th Ward Arts Advisory Committee.
Created by Gus and Lina Ocamposilva, the sculpture "Twin Souls" was the unanimous choice of the Jefferson Park sculpture selection committee of all the works picked by the sculpture festival judges, Craig said.
That committee was made up of Ald. John Arena (45th); George Karzas of the Gale Street Inn restaurant; Demetrios "Jimmy" Kozonis of Mega Group, a real estate development firm, and representatives of the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce, Craig said.
The committee contributed $3,500 to sponsor the sculpture, which will remain in the Jefferson Park Business District for one year — unless someone buys and agrees to maintain it, Craig said. The Ocamposilvas will get a $1,500 stipend and $2,000 will go to the Chicago Sculpture Exhibit for marketing and additional costs, Craig said.
The Chicago Sculpture Exhibit was founded in 2002, and focused on Lincoln Park and Lakeview before expanding its focus to the entire city in 2012. After a kickoff party scheduled for June 27, trolleys will take art aficionados on a tour of all of the sculptures, said Craig, a professional photographer.
The sculpture will be installed at 8 a.m. May 29 in a small plaza on the southeast corner of Lawrence and Milwaukee outside a CVS drugstore.
Cyd Smillie, Arena arts liaison, said the sculpture would "make a big difference on that corner."
"Art elevates wherever it is," Smillie said.
Arena, who is up for re-election next year, has been working to turn the 45th Ward into an arts and culture mecca in an effort to reverse decades of decline and to fill empty storefronts.
A sculpture has long been planned for the small plaza at Milwaukee and Lawrence, Smillie said.
Former 45th Ward Ald. Pat Levar agreed to allow Mega Group to build a a drive-through pharmacy window for the CVS, and in return the developer agreed to install a piece of public art in the plaza.
When Levar left office in 2011, Arena and his staff could not find the written agreement requiring the sculpture to be built, which caused the project to languish.
The corner is home to several empty storefronts, and two empty lots fill the south side of Lawrence between Milwaukee and Avondale avenues.
"It will brighten up the area," Smillie said, adding that public art can create shared spaces for people to gather.
Eventually, Smillie said the arts advisory committee would like to expand the number of sculptures throughout the ward, and the Chicago Sculpture Exhibit would serve as a pilot program, allowing the committee and Arena to judge the community's reaction.
The Ocamposilvas, a Florida-based husband-and-wife team, have exhibited their "monumental metal" sculptures throughout the world, including in East River Park in New York City.
Chicago is one of the couple's favorite cities because of its love of public art, Gus Ocamposilva said. The couple will drive the sculpture, created especially for the Chicago Sculpture Exhibit, to Chicago themselves and install it.
The sculpture is a "symbol of love" that features two abstract figures hugging, Lina Ocamposilva said.
"I hope people who see it will feel our passion for life and bring their own experiences with love and feel connected to something bigger than they are," Lina Ocamposilva said.
The sculpture's splashes of red and green were inspired by Gus Ocamposilva's native Colombia, he said.
"I can't imagine life without color," Gus Ocamposilva said.
A sculpture will also be installed in the Six Corners Shopping District as part of the Chicago Sculpture Exhibit, Craig said. The selection is expected to be announced soon, he added.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: