Home Art collection Two Evanstonians who offered us their outdoor art

Two Evanstonians who offered us their outdoor art

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This article pays tribute to two artists who donated their works to the town of Evanston and also mentions the two most recent commissions. This is the latest in a series of outdoor public art in Evanston created by women.

Art donations to the city can be tricky, as outdoor art, in particular, is subject to the elements – harsh winters, shifting bases, vandalism. The town and the Evanston Arts Council, which must approve the donation, are now seeking maintenance funds to accompany any donation. When a donor is wealthy, such a fund is not really a problem. When the donor is the artist, that may be a different story.

Hope Washinushi is the creator of the mosaic tile “medallion” on the sidewalk inside West Evanston’s Grandmother Park, 1125 Dewey Ave.

Hope Washinushi with her mosaic at Grandmother Park. Credit: Gay Riseborough

The artwork was Washinushi’s gift to the park when it was built in 2013. A Canadian citizen, Washinushi is a resident of Evanston with her family. She served on the board of the Grandmother Park Initiative at the time of her donation.

Washinushi is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute and is currently Chairman of the Board of YEA (Young Evanston Artists). She owns Yasuko Design Co., where she works with interior designers to provide custom-made murals, mosaics and furniture to commercial and residential clients.

The park medallion design is taken from the “logo” created for “branding” purposes while the Initiative was raising funds for the new toddler park. Washinushi was eager to perform it in mosaic, so it had to be planned before the sidewalk was poured. The artwork is in pristine condition as of this writing.

Art by CTA, by the lake

In 2017, longtime Evanston resident and artist Pearl Hirshfield donated to the city two steel sculptures created when she was studying at the Art Institute.

“Sunflower (gift of nature)” by Pearl Hisrchfeld. Credit: Gay Riseborough

The first, Sunflower (Nature Present), made of steel and rebar, is on the east side of the CTA Embankment, immediately south of Main Street. It nests there among other things, alive plants and flowers.

from Hirshfield Tribute to the Whooping Crane, a delicate-looking abstract bird in flight, is also made of steel. It is located at the Clark Street Beach bend on Sheridan Road, just south of the beach office. Unfortunately, the sculpture has weather damage in its current location.

Tribute to the Whooping Crane by Pearl Hirschfield. Credit: Gay Riseborough

Hirshfield graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is an artist and activist whose work responds to concerns for justice, peace and the environment. Working in various mediums – paintings, sculptures and installations – she has used her art to raise awareness of humanitarian issues. The two sculptures that she generously donated to the city embody her interest in ecology.

Pearl Hirschfield, June 2017. Credit: Deborah Hirschfield

An early member and supporter of Women for Peace, Hirshfield served on the planning board of the Chicago Peace Museum and is a member/supporter of Gallery made by a woman. She is the mother of three artists’ daughters, of the same surname, also living in Evanston.

The articles of this series (see list at the end of the post) were presented according to the date of installation of each sculpture.

Evanston’s last two pieces of outdoor public art by women, and the most recently installed, are Amalgamated by Anna Soltys and Inclusive by Hancock Blessing. Because they are both so recent that the Roundtable has covered them extensively as news stories.

Amalgamated was commissioned privately and is not considered part of the city’s collection – although there may be some disagreement about this with regard to repair. Nevertheless, it is certainly in public view and is considered a “benefit” from the developer to the city.

There was also a detailed article on Inclusivethe play at the Robert Crown Center, at the time of its installation in 2021. The artist, Blessing Hancock, made two visits to Evanston from his studio in Hawaii to collect words and phrases to include in the sculpture.

Amalga by Anna Soltys. Credit: Gay Riseborough

Since its installation, a rather laconic sign has been posted on the site stating “DO NOT TOUCH OR CLIMB ON THE WORK”. I think he could at least say “Please”. And it would be really nicer to say “Help us protect the artwork by not climbing on it”.

Here is a link to Yoerg Metzner’s beautiful double exposure photograph of Inclusive.

If you haven’t seen this sculpture in person, pay it a visit – day or night – and read some of the Evanston locals’ thoughts on this wonderful city we all live in.

“Inclusive” by Blessing Hancock. Credit: Gay Riseborough

Previous articles in this series by Gay Riseborough:

Mary Anderson Clark’s Haven School Sculptures exemplify public artwork by women in Evanston.

To “the children of the world”: Glenna Goodacre’s sculpture celebrates Rotary’s battle against polio.

Fire Station #1 goes with the flow of Aqua Vita.

Shore Bird could soar higher at the Ecological Center.

Butterfield’s bronze horse grazes in memory of the philanthropist of Evanston.

The courtyard mosaics of the Levy Senior Center bloom year-round.

Freitas Johnson’s “chairs” are made for conversation.

There is a message attached to ‘Attached.’