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Evanston aldermen Monday are scheduled to approve spending nearly $89,000 for a lighted sculpture called “Stitch” to be installed beneath the Union Pacific viaduct at the intersection of Emerson Street, Ridge Avenue and Green Bay Road.

The work, designed by Warren Langley of Sydney, Australia, was recommended last month by the city’s Arts Council as the as the best of three proposals submitted for the site.

Green Bay Road under construction at the viaduct last October (Google Maps image).

The intersection was substantially rebuilt last year, and the art work is being recommended as part of a city program that attempts to devote one percent of spending on major public works projects to artwork that will enhance the project sites.

Langley says the sculpture is designed to represent an effort to stitch together neighborhoods divided by the viaduct.

A rendering of the sculpture at night.

He says the sculpture, to be made of epoxy or polyeurethane coated steel, would include concealed LED lighting — with red lights on the top surface and white lights on the underside, which he says would combine with ambient light to give the sculpture a different appearance at different times of day.

Langley says the lights for the 40-foot sculpture would be easily replaceable and use a total of no more than 150 watts of power.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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20 Comments

  1. Another example of how the Council does not ‘get it’
    Evanston has debt upon debt but the Council continues to waste money on so called ‘art.”
    Earth to Council—grow-up and face reality.
    The Council needs to be de–funded by the State of all ‘groups.’

    1. Stitch –Public Art

      You would rather have the current deteriorating fabric remain than an attractive Public Art replacement using existing Public Art funds?  Please check your pride of place, seems you have misplaced some of it.

    2. Art?

      I agree, but it certainly is not as idiotic as the balancing figure on the Maple parking garage.  Was THAT necessary?  do people even notice it?  city is cash poor, but wants more art and resaturants, etc….jeez!  Wake up people, and smell the coffee!

      1. Heh. I see that balancing

        Heh. I see that balancing figure all of the time. I get a kick out of it.

      2. Not in love with the Stitch,

        Not in love with the Stitch, but I regularly see people doing a double-take and/or taking photos of the balancing figure.

    3. Cost of art work

      Often I read where the City is taken to task for spending money on projects where that money is from dedicated accounts for special use. Bill, do you know where the money for this art work is coming from?

      1. Funding

        Money is coming from the capital improvement fund, budgeted at $75,000 for 2016 and another $75,000 for 2017. This project will use about $89,000 of the fund’s $150,000 balance. Budget amounts are on p. 229 of the city budget.

        More about the Arts Council and the process for selecting public art projects can be found in the city code.

        — Bill

        1. I don’t see it in the code

          The Code does not mention an amount–such as $75,000—nor as I can see a legal requirement.

          Is the Arts Council setting the amount and the Council just falliing in line–not much independence or backbone.

          We’d all like to be able to tell our bosses how much they are to pay us and then have them say “sure, anything you want.”

          Time to get rid of the Arts Council.   They have taken enough already to last decades–for what they call ‘art.’ Of course they probably would call a pure white canvus a work of creative art and want to pay millions for it..

    4. Precisely. With a significant

      Precisely. With a significant budget shortfall, other deteriorating infrastructure, and increasing property taxes to pay for the schools, this is an utterly unnecessary and irresponsible expenditure. 

    5. So true!

      Precisely. With a significant budget shortfall, other deteriorating infrastructure, and increasing property taxes to pay for the schools, this is an utterly unnecessary and irresponsible expenditure. 

    6. This is a dark, ugly, dirty,

      This is a dark, ugly, dirty, scary location. Have you ever stood under there? We are trying to light it up, make it more attractive. The money has been budgeted for quite some time. Wny don’t YOU volunteer for a civic committee? You might learn a thing or two about how hard we try to improve our city.

      1. In Eyes Of

        I believe this would be a distraction that would cause more accidents and need to be ripped down at a future date. Was this designed by a child? Maybe it would be worth a try if the cost was much closer to 95 cents than 95 thousand but it is not. The “artist” did not come up with a worthwhile product. Do not pay him and reject the piece.

  2. Missing the point

    Not to belabor the obvious, but wouldn’t putting this thing under the viaduct simply give Union Pacific another excuse to not maintain their damn bridge?  This is money that, if not flatly going to waste, hinders the city from actually getting something improved.

  3. Perharps they should paint
    Perharps they should paint the viaduct instead…and then get rid of the preservation commission.

  4. Chase trolls away

    Kudo’s to the Council for attempting to beautify infrastructure, rather than leaving Evanston to look like communist eastern Europe. Maybe the lighted scupture wil chase the trolls away…

  5. Money?
    So we are going to spend almost $89,000 while it is announced that the budget is going to be short $2 – $5 MILLION dollars?? Granted $89K is small potatoes in the bigger scheme of things but the appearance in times of belt tightening and probably budget cuts / layoffs coming is terrible. The amount spent could be used to mitigate the amount of cuts coming.

    1. Have you walked there?

      I think that Stitch is a great choice for an otherwise barren space. It will enhance my walk by and maybe improve my quality of life. 

  6. Public art = good. But–Vandalism?
    I am all for spending (reasonably) on public art; it makes a place unique. I *much* prefer they spend money on art than on loans for private business ventures or whatever wacky schemes…

    I like the look well enough and more light under the bridge would be good. Real concern about vandalism though–this thing will be tagged within a week. A street-level blank blazing billboard begging for bad graffiti

  7. Emerson/Green Bay Sculpture: A Terrible Idea

    I have driven through the Emerson/Ridge/Green Bay intersection on a daily basis for over 20
    years.  Always a confusing intersection, it has become much worse and more dangerous since it
    was redesigned.

    First, there are now long lines of congested traffic inching forward during weekday rush hours, a
    phenomenon I do not recall existing before the redesign.

    Second, the northbound side of the intersection has been rendered more dangerous by the
    redesign.  There are three northbound lanes just south of the stoplight, one lane for Ridge, one
    lane for Green Bay, and one lane for Emerson.  Inexplicably, only the first two lanes
    have overhead signage.  (While all three lanes have pavement markings, a driver will likely not
    see them unless s/he knows they are there, defeating the purpose of the markings).

    On countless occasions I have observed a driver in one of the three lanes suddenly realize s/he
    needs to be in a different lane.  So s/he abruptly swerves in front of a driver already in the
    desired lane, nearly causing a collision.

    The plan to further complicate this highly problematic intersection  with the visual distraction of
    a large, bright yellow sculpture is absurd and irresponsible.  I understand that a percentage of the
    City budget must be spent on public art, but surely a more suitable– and less dangerous– location
    can be found for this sculpture.

    I urge the City Council to reconsider its decision to place the large bright yellow sculpture at the
    Ridge/Green Bay/Emerson intersection.  I urge Evanston residents to contact their alderman to
    convey their opposition to the planned placement of the sculpture so that the safety of an already
    dangerous intersection will not be further impaired.

    1. Distractive and silly sculpture

      I can only support the above writer’s comment since I have been driving this intersection myself for at least that long as well. The new traffic pattern is considerably more dangerous than the prior one (just two days ago a car in the left turn lane to decided to make a right hand turn onto Emerson), and there have been plenty of times I have seen drivers trying to jostle from one lane to the other not knowing where they should be. And yes, at Rush hour, there are cars lined up on all streets blocking each other’s path. To spend nearly $90K on this distractive and silly sculpture is a slap in the face of Evanston residents for whom this money could be much better used. Consider new art projects (competitions?) in schools. Use that money to paint some more murals in the underpasses – replace the art that inadvertently was painted over at the East wall on Green Bay just north of the intersection with Emerson….I am sure our arts community can come up with more ideas for $90K. There are much better ways to unite the various sections of Evanston through art projects! CITY COUNCIL – DO NOT APPROVE THIS EXPENDITURE. Sigrid Pilgrim

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