FREEPORT, ILLINOIS – The Freeport Arts Plaza is wrapping up on a pivotal construction season in the downtown Arts Plaza and is moving forward on the commission of two works of public art planned for permanent installation. When complete, the Arts Plaza is intended to be a vibrant civic space that couples community engagement with art and cultural activities. The space will also supplement existing attractions, such as the Jane Addams bike path, Union Dairy, Lincoln-Douglas Debate Square and the Freeport Public Library.
Major benchmarks, such as the Ferguson Foundation stage and a splash pad are officially finished. The multi-purpose stage will host a variety of performances and the splash pad will serve as a free recreational space with 10 bubbling water fountains for children to play on during the summer months. Sidewalk infrastructure has also been completed by the City of Freeport.
This fall, a hardscape section along Chicago Avenue will be constructed using permeable pavers for bistro seating. In addition, several trees will be planted to cultivate a greener landscape.
Earlier this year, a Request for Qualifications to commission artists for two permanent sculpture pieces was met with thirty-five submissions from professional artists across the nation. Funded in part by an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the sculptures will add distinction to the downtown.
Artist Maureen Hearty, whose commission is also partially underwritten by Sally and Dan Noble and their family and friends in memory of their son Jack Noble, was chosen for her use of materials and for its playful, interactive qualities. Working primarily with reclaimed steel, the Colorado artist describes her creative practice as both a maker of objects and a builder of community. “As a community organizer and sculptress, the opportunity to create something to activate space and engage people is like the stars aligning. The sculpture I’m building for the Freeport Arts Plaza, is just that and I’m honored to be a part of the project.” Her piece titled “Renew” will incorporate a sound element that visitors can play. More of her work can be seen at www.mauxheart.com.
The Art Plaza Public Art Committee – comprised of museum staff, members of board of directors, along with area artists, city officials and community members – has narrowed the second commission down to four finalists that they will decide on by the end of October. The finalists include:
• Corrina Sephora – A mixed media artist based in Atlanta, George whose work concentrates on “personal themes of loss and transformation, within the context of contemporary society.” www.corrinasephora.com
• Stephanie Sailer – With an interest in organic forms derived from an imaginative interpretation of nature, the Kingston, Illinois artist’s work serves as a visual metaphor for psychological transformation and physical manifestations of my emotional mind. www.stephaniesailer.com
• Tim Scofield – From Baltimore, Maryland, Scofield specializes in large-scale sculptures and aerial performance apparatus that require solid structural knowledge and technical know-how. www.timscofieldstudios.com
• Brian Peters – A spatial artist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who integrates digital coding, custom-built technology, contemporary aesthetics and natural clay into work that explores patterns, textures and forms and intersects architecture, art, and fabrication. www.brian-peters.com
Beyond the two permanent commissions, the Arts Plaza will feature temporary installations by artists such as Melinda Cook. Cook, a Freeport native. Ms. Cook is working on a collaborative piece that will incorporate mosaic-style coins designed by community members and other regional artists to cover the surface of bench seating.
“We are thrilled to be able to move forward both the construction and the public art commissions, especially considering the challenges this year has brought. The Arts are the heart of this project and is part of what makes it such a unique initiative. When the sculpture is installed next summer, it will add enormous value to the downtown area” notes Jessica Modica, Arts Plaza Director for the Freeport Art Museum.
About the Freeport Art Museum
Established in 1975, the Freeport Art Museum shares the visual and performing arts with the people of northwest Illinois. FAM’s mission is to create experiences that spark imagination and engagement in the arts for all people by presenting exhibitions and cultural events, advancing arts education, and excelling in collection stewardship. The museum’s collection contains nearly 4,000 artifacts from all continents and all time periods including ethnographic objects from Egypt, Southeast Asia, and Papua New Guinea; Pre-Columbian and Native American baskets and pottery; excellent 15th to 19th century European painting, prints and sculpture; and a significant collection of contemporary American prints, paintings,