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Art fans brave slush for sculpture ceremony

About two dozen fans of the arts braved sloppy December weather Friday night to crowd into the sixth floor elevator lobby at the Maple Avenue Garage for the dedication of Evanston’s newest downtown sculpture.

About two dozen fans of the arts braved sloppy December weather Friday night to crowd into the sixth floor elevator lobby at the Maple Avenue Garage for the dedication of Evanston’s newest downtown sculpture.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl told the crowd it was a day for her of very mixed emotions. "City hall feels awful," she said, with anguish about the just-announced plans to eliminate 47 jobs. "But this is a joyful moment," to mark the installation of "The Encounter" by German sculptor Hubertus von der Goltz.

The mayor said the work, which features two figures delicately balancing and moving toward each other along a steel beam, could be seen as symbolizing the precariousness of life, something that people have become more vividly aware of during the recession.

The artist has described the work as symbolizing the coming together of people from different cultures and walks of life, as the dedication program put it, "just as the public below will encounter each other on the sidewalks of Evanston as they head for work, shop, take in a movie or go to dinner."

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, whose 2nd Ward includes the garage site, noted that the project has raised some controversy in the community, but said it’s important to have a piece of art that really attracts attention.

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste jokes with Dr. Stamata Blanas, who hosted a reception for the artist after the dedication at her Optima Views condo which overlooks the sculpture, and with Public Arts Committee Chair Joshua Barney.

The fact that the unlighted black metal sculpture could hardly be seen in the dark as the crowd moved out onto the roof of the garage to cut the ribbon seemed to deter participants less than the slush falling from the sky.

One of the figures of the sculpture silhouetted against the windows of Optima Views.

The yellow ribbon hanging from the sculpture to the garage roof railing was cut easily with the mayor’s giant scissors, but unsolved as the gathering adjourned was how to get the remains of the ribbon free from the sculpture, where it had become caught.

Struggling with the reluctant ribbon.

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