Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the name Hirshfield.
This article celebrates two artists who have donated their artwork to the City of Evanston and mentions the two most recent commissions as well. It is the last in a series about outdoor public art in Evanston created by women.
Gifts of art to the city can be tricky, because outdoor art, in particular, is subject to the elements – harsh winters and shifting bases – as well as vandalism. The city and the Evanston Arts Council, which must approve the donation, now seek maintenance funds to accompany any donation. When a donor is well-to-do, such a fund isn’t much of a problem. When the donor is the artist, that can be a different story.
Hope Washinushi is the creator of the mosaic tile “medallion” in the sidewalk inside west Evanston’s Grandmother Park, 1125 Dewey Ave. The full mosaic was pictured in the Evanston RoundTable on April 27, in a charming drop-in by photographer Joerg Metzner.
The artwork was Washinushi’s gift to the park during its construction in 2013. A Canadian citizen, Washinushi is a resident of Evanston along 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 current board chair of YEA (Young Evanston Artists). She is the owner of Yasuko Design Co., where she works with interior designers to provide murals, mosaics and custom-fabricated furnishings to commercial and residential clientele.
The design of the park medallion is taken from the logo created for branding purposes during fundraising for the new toddler park. Washinushi was eager to interpret it in mosaic, so it had to be planned before the sidewalk was poured. The artwork is in absolutely pristine condition as of this writing.
Art by CTA, lakefront
In 2017, longtime Evanston resident and artist Pearl Hirshfield made a gift to the city of two steel sculptures created when she was studying at the Art Institute.
The first one, Sunflower (Nature’s Gift), made of steel and rebar, is on the east side of the CTA embankment, immediately south of Main Street. It nestles there among living plants and flowers.
Hirshfield’s Homage to the Whooping Crane, a delicate-looking abstracted bird in flight, is also made of steel. It is sited in the Clark Street Beach turnaround off Sheridan Road, just south of the beach office. Unfortunately, the sculpture is showing some weather damage in its current location.
Hirshfield is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is an artist and activist whose work addresses concerns for justice, peace and the environment. Working in various mediums – paintings, sculpture and installation – she has used her art to raise awareness of humanitarian issues. The two sculptures she has generously donated to the city embody her interest in ecology.
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 Woman Made Gallery. She is the mother of three artist daughters, with the same surname, also living in Evanston.
The articles in this series (see list at end of this post) have been presented according to the date that each sculpture was installed.
The last two pieces of Evanston’s outdoor public art by women, and the most recently installed, are Amalga by Anna Soltys and Inclusiva by Blessing Hancock. Because they are both so recent, the RoundTable has covered both extensively as news stories.
Amalga was privately commissioned and is not considered part of the city’s collection – although there could be some disagreement about that when it comes to repair. Nevertheless, it certainly is on public view and is considered a “benefit” from the developer to the city.
A sinuous sculpture and kinetic metal ‘wall’ enliven public park at Albion (click on link to view story).
There was also an in-depth article about Inclusiva, the piece at the Robert Crown Center, at the time of its installation in 2021. The artist, Blessing Hancock, made two visits to Evanston from her studio in Hawaii to collect words and phrases to include in the sculpture.
Inclusiva: A new public artwork for Evanston (click on link to view story).
Since its installation, a rather terse sign has been posted at the site saying “DO NOT TOUCH OR CLIMB ON THE ARTWORK.” I would think it could at least say “Please.” And it would really be nicer to say “Help us protect the artwork by not climbing on it.”
Here is a link to Joerg Metzner’s beautiful double exposure photograph of Inclusiva.
If you have not seen this sculpture in person, pay it a visit – day or night – and read some of Evanstonians’ thoughts about this wonderful city we all live in.
Earlier articles in this series by Gay Riseborough: