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The Arts

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Members of the Evanston Public Art Committee had one goal in mind in selecting a sculpture for the Sherman Plaza: “Since this piece will be there for a long time — longer than we will be there — we wanted something that wouldn't be boring,” said committee member and former committee co-chair Geraldine Macsai.

As a result, the committee chose artist Takashi Soga's sculpture, “The Sea of the Ear-Ring '07,” a red, 15-foot-tall stainless steel and lead piece with a immense ring protruding from the top designed to move quietly with the wind. Because of its construction, the work seems to defy gravity.

The sculpture is one of more than 50 such works of public art — from murals to sculptures — scattered throughout Evanston. The public art initiative was started by the city nearly two decades ago.

“Public art is generated in Evanston when a public building goes up — such as a parking lot or library — that will cost more than $1 million to construct,” Macsai explained. “One percent of the building's overall cost goes to the side for public art.”

The Soga sculpture, for example, was attached to the completion of a nearby public parking garage.

The next public art project will be attached to the completion of the city's Fire Station #5 at 2830 Central Street in Evanston. Currently, there are two finalists for the fire station: Radiance, a proposal by artist Gail Simpson to replace the glass panes above the three fire truck bays with digitally printed art glass; and Emitting Waves, a proposal by artist Robert Smart for a number of glass and cell-cast acrylic panels carved with images depicting the flow of water.

In the meantime, interested citizens can review the projects online at the City's web site www.cityofevanston.org/stationfive.

The installation of one of the two finalists is expected to take place next year, Macsai said.

The Sherman Plaza project took two years to bring to fruition, she added. “We put out the call for proposals in 2005 and received 155 submissions from 11 different countries,” Macsai said. “We then formed a selection committee consisting of business people, aldermen, administrators from the city government, the architects of the garage and members of the Public Art Committee.”

The selection committee chose five finalists who each submitted a model of their proposed art that went on display at the Evanston Public Library. “We also had the proposals online and held a large public meeting,” Macsai said. “We took into consideration what people felt about the finalists before we chose a work for the plaza.”

art

“Public art speaks to the beauty of a community,” said Lyn DelliQuadri, an Evanston Public Art committee member
and former committee co-chair. “So much of the art in our society is available to only a small group of people. When art is in a public place, everybody who walks by gets to see it.”

Recently, Evanston officials announced a plan to expand public art across the city with the Evanston Community Public Art Program. “The idea of this program is to get public art projects into the neighborhoods,” Macsai said.

She added that Evanston has been a longtime champion of providing public art to those who live and work in the city. “Public art says a lot about a community,” Macsai said. “It says what the values of a community are. Art can unify a community and enrich it.

“It is a quality of life issue and to me, public art is as important a fixture in a community as trees and flowers are,” she added. “It is a way of stopping, enjoying what you are seeing, and calming down for a minute.”

“Public art is valuable because it truly is a reflection of the community,” says Jan Richardson, the owner and founder of Available Video Productions. “It is often descriptive of what the community stands for and it is also a way of highlighting the artists of a community.”

Boocoo Cultural Center
Evanston is a city that thrives on culture and in recent months has expanded that philosophy to one of its neighborhoods.

aerobics class

Earlier this year, the city welcomed the opening of the Boocoo Cultural Center, Recording Studio and Café at 1823 Church Street. The center brings a wealth of cultural opportunities to the city's west side, says Fifth Ward Alderman Delores Holmes.

“Although I support any new development in the Fifth Ward, this is a wonderful addition to the area,” she said. “The workshops, the café and all of the other programs that the center offers are things that weren't in the ward
previously.”

“The center has been very well utilized since its opening,” added Holmes. “It is great to have these kinds of resources available in the neighborhood.”

There are numerous aspects to the center. For example, events and workshops include open mic poetry, jazz performances and film screenings.

Boocoo classes available for children are classes in music, Spanish language, African-Brazilian martial art and dance, Thai martial art, Hip Hop dance, yoga and tap dancing. There are also Saturday story telling events.

Classes on diet and lifestyle through the Boocoo's Community Nutrition Dialogue are also available.

The center offers a professional recording studio geared for both quality and affordability. Available is both vintage equipment as well as a 16-channel Protools DAW. The studio is available for lease to sound engineers and musicians.

The Boocoo Café provides breakfast, lunch and dinner. In warm weather months, a patio is also available. Menu items range from smoothies to grilled cheese to salads to pita pizzas. The café prides itself on the fact that it uses organic milk, organic fair trade coffee and tea, dolphin safe tuna and organic fruits and vegetables as much as possible. There are also vegan and kosher options

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