Humans have been creating and building things for thousands of years. Some are monumental and awe-inspiring, some are fun or functional, and some are ugly. Everywhere people go, they leave behind something, carelessly or with a purpose.
On a recent trip to Poland, we spent a day and a half in the southern city of Krakow. Krakow is a vibrant city with a well-preserved Old Town and full of interesting public art! Here are four of my favorites and most well-known.
In the main square of the old town, was this head. “The artist’s gift to the city of Krakow, 2005” read a plaque (which I translated with the help of Google translator). The artist is Igor Mitoraj and his bronze sculpture (created in 1999) is called “Eros Bendato.”
Nearby was a wooden pole with colorful birds, called “Emaus tree.” A sign in English explains that the Emaus tree “refers to the traditional trees of life” which were found at the stalls of the annual fair in Zwierzyniac on the 2nd day of Easter. The Emaus tree could be a nest with figurines of chicks or a bird mounted on a stick decorated with leaves, usually made of wood. The tradition of making this ornament dates back to pre-Christian times when it was believed that the souls of the dead came back to life as birds who sheltered in tree branches. It also symbolized nature coming back to life in the spring.
A “fire breathing” dragon is a popular site for children, located below the wall of Krakow’s castle. Every evening at 6 p.m., this dragon is supposed to “breathe fire.” I don’t know exactly how it works and our guide didn’t explain it, but the day we were there, no fire issued forth from the dragon’s open mouth, disappointing this crowd of expectant kids.
We visited the old Jewish quarter, where the Steven Spielberg movie, Schindler’s List, was filmed. Nearby is an art installation consisting of tall, stark chairs, each representing 100 Krakow Jews (about 6,700) who were killed in the Holocaust. The artist and the installation’s title are on the sign below.
This mural on a building in Chicago was visible during Pride Month while driving on the Kennedy Expressway (I-90).
The Old Belmont Hotel in Chicago is now called “Belmont by Reside.” The ceiling of the parking lot is itself a work of art.
At the Chicago lakefront near Navy Pier, I once discovered a really cool sculpture, which most people don’t know exists. Sculptor Seward Johnson entitled it “Crack the Whip!” which is the name of a children’s circular game. The individual children’s expressions and the detail in their appearance is delightful and realistic. The child in front pulls the child behind him/her, who in turn pulls the next one as they run in a circle (or try to!). I thought to include photos of this sculpture would be appropriate for the theme of “going in circles.”
Artists who use sidewalks as their canvas know that their art is temporary. If you are lucky enough to see one of these 3D-looking masterpieces, it’s best to take a photo right then and there, because next week it could be gone! I have only myself encountered one of these sidewalk paintings – usually I see them online somewhere – so I was happy to find this one, which was done on the sidewalk in front of the Des Plaines Public Library last August. I have not seen it since, so I assume it was removed or washed away.
I’m always amazed by the artists who can draw on sidewalks in such a way to create an optical illusion of a 3-D image. These drawings are usually made with chalk so they don’t last long! I photographed this one a couple of days ago in front of the Des Plaines Public Library.
I love this challenge that Marsha and Cee are hosting! It’s Cee’s turn this week.
Today I am featuring some interesting sculptures by Daniel Popper, an artist from South Africa, which are on display in various locations at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. The installation is called Human + Nature.
This is the first sculpture we saw, not far from the entrance to the park. Its title is Hallow.
Further on down the path, we came upon another one, called Sentient.
There was another sculpture in that part of the park, but even with the map, we couldn’t find it. So we drove across the highway to the smaller part of the arboretum, where we saw two more.
I neglected to take a picture of this one’s title, but it was something like Mother or Beauty.
The last one we saw was called Basilica, and there we met the artist himself, who was using spray paint to touch up a few details. Our visit was at the beginning of the display. These sculptures will remain for about a year, before they are dismantled and Popper takes them to their next destination.
Cee and Marsha’s Public Art Photo Challenge is in its third week, I think. This week is Marsha’s turn, and I linked to that. If you haven’t seen other contributions, click on the link and see some awesome petroglyphs!
Fire hydrants are a good place for public art – they are necessary and they are always there. People walk by them every day and don’t look at them, but sometimes it is worth stopping!