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Arts Alive Turns to Crowdsourcing to Fund Public Art in Jefferson Park

"Scrape" by Dusty Folwarczny.
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

JEFFERSON PARK — Arts advocates are working to harness the power of the Internet to bring public art and the Chicago Sculpture Exhibit back to Jefferson Park this summer.

"We've gotten a whole lot of positive responses," said Cyd Smillie, the president of Arts Alive Chicago. "We want that to continue."

To make that happen, arts advocates — including Ald. John Arena (45th) — have put out a call for $10 donations via the Arts Alive website to cover the $3,500 cost to bring at least one sculpture to Jefferson Park as part of the 2016 Chicago Sculpture Exhibit.

"Public art is essential to a vibrant community," Arena said. "It brings people together, encourages conversation, and gives us all something beautiful and meaningful to look at together."

 Christopher Newman, r., installs his sculpture
Christopher Newman, r., installs his sculpture "Crossing V" in the Six Corners Shopping District Tuesday.
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Six Corners Association

The sculpture festival, which is designed to bring art to Chicago's neighborhoods, has included Jefferson Park for the past two years, with the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce picking up part of the tab.

But with the chamber in turmoil, Arts Alive began looking for other ways to fund the effort.

"So far we're doing really well," Smillie said, adding that $2,300 has been raised in just a couple weeks, making it likely the push will succeed. "We're very pleased."

That total includes a $100 donation from Jefferson Park Forward, a newly formed community group, and several individual donations from members.

In addition, Chicago Sculpture Exhibit organizers are watching the Arts Alive crowdsourcing effort to see if it could be replicated in other areas without a strong, well-funded business group like a chamber, Smillie said.

"I think those who have contributed to the sculpture will feel a real sense of ownership," Smillie said. "All for the cost of a couple cups of coffee."

The two sculptures now installed along Milwaukee Avenue at Lawrence and Agatite avenues are set to be removed at the end of March as the 2015 sculpture exhibit draws to a close.

"Scrape" by Dusty Folwarczny was installed in June at Lawrence and Milwaukee avenues, its large steel circles covered in rust and red paint and welded together.

"Pandora's Shepard" by Terrence Karpowicz, a granite and steel sculpture that seems to defy the laws of gravity by balancing a boulder on a steel beam, was installed in October at 4427 N. Milwaukee Ave.

The exhibit has also included sculptures in the Six Corners Shopping District in Portage Park during the past two years.

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.

In addition to the sculpture effort, Arts Alive Chicago is planning to paint two murals this spring, one on the South Side and another in Indiana, said Smillie, who left her position last month as Arena's arts liaison to spend more time with friends and family members and focus on the group's projects.

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