Skylanding sculpture by Yoko Ono in Jackson Park- JPAC information page

Return to: JPAC's Project 12o information page
JPAC's Garden of the Phoenix (Osaka Garden) page
JPAC hydepark.org JPAC homepage and links, hydepark.org JPAC index to pages (hydepark.org/parks/jpac/)
JPAC official website- www.jacksonparkadvisorycouncil.org
Project 120 website- www.project120chicago.org.
Skylanding website of Project 120- www.skylanding.com
Garden of the Phoenix website of Project 120- www.gardenofthephoenix.org.

By Gary Ossewaarde

The following material is from the JPAC Project 120 page as of December 4, 2016. Updates going forward will be here.

YOKO ONO'S SKY LANDING

The Sky Landing website, skylanding.com, is live. There you can make a peace wish, as in Japan where they write the wish on strips of white paper and tie that onto a tree to flutter in the wind. Music on the site will initially include one track from Tatsu Aoki's "Skylanding: Music of Yoko Ono by the Miyumi Project" which will be featured, more will be placed for streaming later.

Links to an article about Sky Landing August 2016. Project 120 release. To article ahead of October dedication. History and Background material.
To Op Ed by Gary Ossewaarde from the November 2016 Newsletter.

Note: Earlier and in October 2016: Jackson Park Watch submitted serveral questions about the Skylanding installation. Here are some including abstract of Park District Superintendent Kelly's answers at the October 17 board meeting:
The art is a a donation by the Yoko Ono Foundation and is owned and controlled exclusively by the Chicago Park District. [It has unrestricted access and no fees. Funding for any special maintenace or security are being sought [identified and raised.] Parking is available at a distance and is a widespread problem in the parks. Lack of restrooms in proximity is acknowledged and is also a problem elsewhere throughout the district. [Ed. the Board and Superintendent heard from two speakers, including this editor, the need to consider thoughtfully any further facilities proposed in Jackson Park. The need to restore access via Darrow Bridge has been communicated to CPD and CDOT frequently.]

At the Novemer 2016 JPAC meeting, members raised various concerns and suggestions about overnight security and about regulatory signage on the Island and for the sculpture. The conversation will continue at the December 12 council meeting.

Work began the week of August 8 2016 on installation of Yoko Ono's Sky Landing just west of the Japanese Garden on Wooded Island. The new sculpture of a lotus flower representing peace ise incorporated into the Garden via path reconfiguration. Funds are being raised to enhance perpetual upkeep.
A private dedication ceremony was held Monday October 17 (report coming) and an invitation-only soiree with Yoko Ono's music (Album disc Skylanding) by Tatsu Aoki's Miyumi Project was be held in the evening.
October 22, Saturday, 11 am, WOODED ISLAND (in which and Sky Landing, a part of Garden of the Phoenix Japanese Garden, will be given PERMANENT PUBLIC ACCESS. Tours of the Island ecological reconstruction and history will be available.
Note that many fences will remain up to protect new plantings and areas for future plantings, and that the Darrow Bridge to parking northwest of the Island remains closed pending construction.

An op ed by Gary Ossewaarde, JPAC Newsletter editor, from the November 2016 JPAC Newsletter:

The most important and significant additions of the past month are the re-opening of Wooded Island October 22 with a popular outing experience and opportunities to observe and learn about the ecological and landscape restoration, and the addition of a world-important quality piece of public art, Skylanding, designed by Yoko Ono and installed at the Garden of the Phoenix. Reflecting the universal symbol of the lotus blossom, its purpose is to promote reflection upon peace in the world and in our communities and to call attention to one of the many peoples, the Japanese, who played a part in the making and history of Jackson Park and the country. One has to hope that it contributes in those regards as well as aesthetically—many have already visited to enjoy and take selfies with it. It is the most significant sculptural addition in this South Side park since the replica Republic by Daniel Chester French in 1918. Thank you to all who had this vision.

Some have expressed disappointment that the unveiling was by invitation to a small number given the limited 3 space, security concerns, and that it was a celebration by those (including from this area) who made it possible. Many from the South Side were invited, including parties less than enthusiastic—and the park welcomed many from other parts of the city, as we would expect to be welcomed in Lincoln or Garfield Park, also ours as Chicagoans. There will be discussion of involvement of and contribution by private persons and bodies to park assets and changes and of how such decisions are made and what kind of and how much public input there should be. Such discussion will be held and be necessary as long as there are parks and people to use them. Some details were not shared widely or easily discerned, but major facts were either in public documents or online and there were both several public meetings and consultations with stakeholder organizations that included general information on the ideas and intent for Skylanding. Skylanding was a gift and did not involve public funds, including for upkeep, for which funds will have to be raised. It was not a forced deal, nor involve private control or sequestration or fencing off, or making money off the park that belongs to all, nor dit it involve discernible opportunity costs other than that the donors chose to do this, for our park and communities. This asset would not have been added if it depended on taxes, nor should the overburdened taxpayer be expected to cover it. Having achieved this addition and with the Library and its impact on the park expected, we can and should pause to look carefully at the future of our park and further changes that may or may not be desired and make sure any changes are done compatibly, including with respect for the historic Olmsted design and a healthy, nature- and tree-respective open space. With one exception: restoring and reopening the broken anchor connector, historic Darrow Bridge with all due speed remains a top priority.
For information on Skylanding and the Japanese Garden from the planners and funders, visit www.skylanding.com , www.gardenofthephoenix.org , and www.project120chicago.org.

July 30, 2016. Project 120 announced that an interview with Yoko Ono, "Ono Landing: The unstoppable activist, artist and icon touches down in Chicago this Fall," by David Syrek with photos by Matthew Placek, is now online from the Chicago Tribune and was printed in Chicago Tribune Magazine August 7 2016. TO THE ARTICLE.
In the magazine, it is followed by an article and simplified timeline about the Garden: "From the Ashes: Diplomacy, history and art intersect in a Chicago garden poised for rediscovery," by Nara Schoemberg with phos by Brian Casella.
Learn more about the Garden at gardenofthephoenix.org/ including gardenofthephoenix.org/timeline.
For a video walking tour visit chicagotribune.com/japanesegardentour.

Project 120 release:
Project 120 Chicago is delighted to let you know that a major interview with Yoko Ono is now available digitally and will be featured in the August 7th Chicago Tribune Magazine. Yoko talks about her connection to Chicago, her life and art.

'SKY LANDING' by Yoko Ono
First Permanent Public Art Installation in the Americas, Representing a Lifelong Mission for Peace

"It is where the sky and earth meet and create a seed to learn about the past and come together to create a future of peace and harmony with nature and each other." - Yoko Ono on her work SKY LANDING that is being installed in the Garden of the Phoenix, Jackson Park, Chicago.

Set to be open to the public this Fall 2016,SKY LANDING will be Yoko Ono's first permanent public art work in the Americas. It is a marker of her place as an artist of profound international influence and of her lifelong mission for world peace.

As we approach the dedication, we will let you know of public events and ways that you can be involved.

SKY LANDING is a part of a broader ongoing revitalization of the South Parks designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

Thank you for support of Project 120 and Chicago's South Parks.

Longer Project 120 release:


The Artist's First Permanent Public Art Installation in the Americas
Representing her Lifelong Mission for Peace

Project 120 Chicago, a public-private partnership with the Chicago Park District, is pleased to announce that international artist and peace activist Yoko Ono will unveil SKYLANDING, a sculpture and landscape in historic Jackson Park on Chicago's South Side.

SKYLANDING is Ono's first permanent public installation in the Americas, and is situated at the north end of the 15-acre Wooded Island in the historic Garden of the Phoenix, a site within Jackson Park that has been dedicated to relations between Japan and the United States for more than a century.
Consisting of 12 large steel lotus petals with mounds to its north and south forming a yin-yang pattern, "SKYLANDING is place where the sky and earth meet and create a seed to learn about the past and come together to create a future of peace and harmony, with nature and each other," Ono explained. "Peace among all people and nations begins with peace in our hearts, streets and parks."

"Yoko first visited the site in 2013," recalled Robert Karr, Jr., President of Project 120 Chicago. "As we strolled the garden, Yoko reflected on her childhood in Japan and the United States both during and after World War II. She appreciated the vision of those in Japan who created the Phoenix Pavilion for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, as well as the people of Chicago who have cared for the site for generations as a place to learn about Japan and experience Japanese culture. Inspired by our discussion of the past, we soon turned to the question of what the future would bring."

Shortly after her visit, Ono began to imagine an appropriate structure for the space once occupied by the Phoenix Pavilion, the unique structure Japan erected on the Wooded Island for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Modeled on an 11th Century temple, the Phoenix Pavilion and the art work it contained showcased for the first time in America the greatest achievements of Japan's artistic heritage. Following the Exposition, it was gifted to the people of Chicago, but was tragically lost to arson in 1946.

For Ono, this history was an inspiration to create a "Lotus of hope to usher in a new era of peace," and on June 12, 2015, she held a Ground Healing ceremony to prepare the site. SKYLANDING has 12 smooth petals, but to commemorate the ground healing, Ono created a 13th lotus petal, entitled MENDED PETAL, that is symbolically repaired in the Japanese tradition of kintsugi. MENDED PETAL will be dedicated at the Art Institute of Chicago on October 18, where remnants of the Phoenix Pavilion are preserved and on display.

The dedication of SKYLANDING is accompanied by the launch of an interactive website and free music release on October 17 at www.skylanding.com.
For information about the Garden of the Phoenix, and the history of U.S.-Japan relations reflected by this historic site, go to www.gardenofthephoenix.org.

Article, Chicago Tribune, October 12, 2016
Link to this article: Yoko Ono's 'Skylanding' installation inspires cutting-edge Chicago jazz

"Inspiring installation: Yoko Ono's work leads to Tatsu Aoki music adventure. By Howard Reich

When Chicago bassist-bandleader Tatsu Aoki was growing up in his native Japan, he drew inspiration from three musical heroes above all: Yoko Ono, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Association of Creative Musicians (a collective of Chicago avant-gardists.)

Little did Aoki imagine that nearly half a century later he would be collaborating with Ono and several AACM masters for an album featuring Ono's music. But not just any album, "Skylanding: Music of Yoko Ono by the Miyumi Project" was conceived by Ono and Aoki in conjunction with a high-profile public art installation Ono will unveil in Chicago on Monday. Located at the entrance to the Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park, Ono's Skylanding will feature a dozen 12-foot tall steel lotus petals rising from the ground as a gesture of peace, hope and renewal.

Aoki and his Miyumi Project band, which long has merged the spirit of South Side experimental jazz with traditional Japanese folkloric music, will perform at the occasion, playing some of the music from the forthcoming "Skylanding" album.

So how did this unexpected partnership with Ono begin? "Last yer she did a groundbreaking ceremony at Jackson Park and Miyumi Project played the ceremony opening music," says Aoki, of an event Ono called a "ground healing." "My understanding is that she actually liked the band a lot."

Apparently so, for early this year Aoki found himself visiting Ono in her New York apartment to discuss the venture. "Several months ago, Yoko and I were talking about the completion of Skylanding," explains Robert Karr Jr., president of Project 120 Chicago, a private-public partnership with the Chicago Park District that is overseeing the installation. Ono and Karr felt that music had to be a part of Skylanding, "And she said: What about 'Rising'?" recalls Karr.

Ono was referring to her mid-1990s album, which reflected on the World War II bombings of Japan that profoundly affected her and millions of others. As she was making the album, "The memory of being a young child in Japan during the second world war came back to me," she wrote in the liner notes. "I remember being called an American spy by other kids for not singing the Japanese National Anthem fast enough (it's a slow song, but they suspected I didn't know the anthem too well since I lived in the United States before the war). I remember the severe bombing in Tokyo, hiding in a air-raid shelter listening to the sound of the bombs coming closer then going away, and feeling that my mother and I lived another day."

Those traumatic memories and, of course, the tragic effects of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, echo in the "Rising" album. Nowhere more than in its opening song, "Warzone," with lyrics that reference "towns burning," throats choking," "skin peeling" and "bones melting."

In effect, Ono has picked up on those concerns in her Skylanding installation. "The lotus represents hope, rebirth and spiritual awakening," she told the Tribune earlier this year. She chose to place Skylanding on the site where Japan had built a Phoenix Pavilion for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, presented as a gift to the people of Chicago after the exposition. That pavilion succumbed to arson in 1946, but in 2013--to mark the 120th anniversary of the pavilion--more than 120 cherry trees were planted there.

"Soon after I first visited the site in 2013," Ono said in the Tribune interview, "I began to imagine such a lotus rising from the ashes of the lost Phoenix." With Ono and Karr believing that music needed to be a part of her venture, Karr turned to Aoki, who moved to Chicago in the late 1970s to learn from the artists of the AACM, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and other facets of teh city's percolating music scene. Ever since, he has intertwined the sounds of two cultures, East and West.

"If I went to Tatsu, I didn't need to go and explain it," says Karr. "Tatsu himself embodies all of this in his work and his experiences," adds Karr, referring to the connections between Japan and Chicago that Aoki's music epitomizes. Aoki's job was to craft a jazz response to Ono's music on the "Skylanding" album, which he does by drawing on two tunes from the "Rising" album and other pieces, his ensemble's music ranging from tempestuous to serene (Ono does not perform on the recording).

The first track, "Warzone" (which also opens Ono's "Rising" album, begins hauntingly, with taiko drums and traditional Japanese woodwinds giving way to screaming electric guitar and explosive percussion--quite appropriate, considering the subject matter. Meanwhile, the great Chicago jazz singer Dee Alexander repeatedly howls the phrase "Warzone." Alexander's sometimes earthy, sometimes airborne vocals ultimately emerge as teh focal point of the album, particularly in the final song, ono's "Skylanding." To hear Alexander chant its central lyric--with leading Chicago jazz musicians playing behind her--is to understand the power of Ono's message and the AACM's aesthetic.

"Skylanding is a place where the sky and earth meet and created a seed to learn about the past and come together to create a future of peace and harmony," sings Alexander, "with nature and each other." That line crystallizes what the song and the installation are about.

As for the "skylanding" album in its entirety, "it tells a story about the complexity of humanity and our ability to both create and destroy," writes Karr in an email (Ono was unavailable for comment). "For example, "Warzone" is about the devastation she witnessed as a child in Tokyo during World War II and teh aftermath of the atomic bombs dropped on hiroshima and Nagasaki. 'Rising' is a path to peace."

You certainly believe that when you hear Alexander intone the life-affirming lyrics in "Rising," Alexander's voice bounding from throaty low notes to soaring high ones. "Listen to your heart/ Respect your intuition/ Make your manifestation/ There's no limitation." Not that any of this is easy listening, by pop-culture standards. Instrumentalists such as saxophonists Mwata Bowden and Edward Wilkerson Jr., percussionists Coco Elysses and Avreeayl Ra and guitarist Rami Atassi bring ample ferocity to the proceedings. "Some people may not feel comfortable with this type of music," says Karr, pointing to its edgy nature. "But in this context, sometimes you've got to go out there, man. And you've got to do this with heart." That always has been Aoki's approach.

Working with Ono, he says, has been "really an incredible experience for me." The 'Rising' track will be streamed on the project's website, www.skylanding.com, which goes live Monday, as all the "Skylanding" music eventually will be. Ultimately adds Aoki, this work represents "my homage to Yoko Ono's music--as a Chicagoan (and) as a musician that developed the sound of Chicago Asian-American jazz."

Ono and Karr could not have picked a Chicago musician better suited to the task.

June 12 2015 Yoko Ono's SKY LANDING had its inaugural celebration and Ground Healing ceremony with Yoko Ono (This report in pdf and another) and the work is now installed and dedicated (October 17 2016) and will be open for unrestricted public viewing OCTOBER 22 2016 FROM 11 AM. The two mounds to surround it and "effect" the "landing" of the sky cooling and healing eary. The mounds suggest rotating/mixing motion and resemble the classical Asian symbol for Yang and Yin.

Report on October 17 dedication is coming.

May 24 2016 the design for Yoko Ono’s “Sky Landing” was revealed at an event at the Art Institute of Chicago. Extensive background, the evolution of the idea, and the meaning of the piece was given by Robert Karr. Larger context was also provided by Tao Wang, Pritzker Chair of Asian Art at the Art Institute and restorer Janice Katz, who announced that painted sliding panels (featuring phoenixes) from the 1893 Phoenix Pavilion, by artist Hashimoto Gaho and that survived the burning of Pavilion and were found in 2011, have now been restored at the Art Institute and are being scheduled to join the four carved surviving transom panels on display in the Asian wing.
Yoko Ono’s design selection is a set of twelve human-size pieces representing petals of a sacred lotus blossom (representing peace), each distinctly-shaped petal standing for one of the 24 principles for living in Buddhism and placed on a point in a geometric grid of circles related to the cardinal points of the compass. The piece will be installed during the summer and dedicated by Yoko Ono in a public ceremony this fall.

Press release on Sky Landing by Project 120, June 12, 2016

Sky Landing, by Yoko Ono, First Permanent Public Art Installation in the Americas, Representing a Lifelong Mission for Peace. Coming this Fall to the Garden of the Phoenix, Wooded Island, Jackson Park, Chicago

One year ago today, on June 12, 2015, Noon, Yoko Ono held a Ground Healing Ceremony on the site of SKY LANDING in the Garden of the Phoenix on the Wooded Island on Wooded Island in Jackson Park, Chicago

Set to be open to the public this Fall 2016, SKY LANDING will be Yoko Ono's first permanent public art work in the Americas. It is a marker of her place as an artist of profound international influence and of her lifelong mission for world peace.

SKY LANDING is an ongoing renovation of Jackson Park, including ecological restoration, and a return to how it looked when it looked when it was originally designed by famed architect Frederick Law Olmsted.
More at project120chicago.org.
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In a July 6 2016 letter to the Hyde Park Herald, Francis S. Vandervoort (who is nature trail steward for JPAC in Jackson Park) and Robert W. Karr (Project 120) write in response to critique of celebrities allegedly swooping down to add things to parks:

"In the early 189os, the Japanese government, striving to break free of cultural bonds that had shut if off from te western world for centuries, heard about the great World's Columbian Exposition that was under construction in the burgeoning city of Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan. Eager to be welcomed by the West, the Japanese offered monetary support for the fair, now called the World's Columbian Exposition, an amount exceeded only by that of the United States.

The Japanese made another offer as well, one that chief of construction Daniel Burnham could not resist. The Japanese wanted to construct a special building, a "Ho-o-den," or Phoenix Pavilion, and gift it to Chicago following the fair to celebrate the city's rapid recovery from the Great Fire of 1871 and be a symbol of peace between the U.S. and Japan.

There was one problem. The Japanese wanted to build the Ho-o-den on Wooded Island, the site that chief landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted had specifically designated as a place of respite and quiet reflection, far away from the noise and and hubbub of the rest of the fair. Olmsted believed that such green space was necessary for urban living, and the Wooded Island served this important purpose within the fair's well-planned city environment.

Burnham used his administrative skill to persuade Olmsted to change his mind about the Ho-o-den, which then was built by a cadre of handsomely uniformed Japanese carpenters brought to Chicago specifically for the task of building the Ho-o-den and a nearby Japanese tea house. Following Olmsteds' approval, teh South Park Commissioners then agreed to accept the Ho-o-den on behalf of Chicago, and to maintain it as a permanent place to learn about Japan and experience Japanese culture.

The Ho-o-den and teahouse were instantly successful. Both structures not only conveyed the spirits of democracy and community so important to Olmsted's way of thinking, they left a lasting impression on visitors. Among them was a young Frank Lloyd Wright, who developed a life-long fascination and relationship with Japan following his encounters with the fair, including ideas that led to his development of the Prairie style best exemplified by nearby Robie House. Although the tea house disintegrated shortly after the fair closed, the Ho-o-den remained an important feature of Jackson Park until destroyed by fire in 1946.

We now have the opportunity to reestablish this site, and recognize it as one of the most important sites reflecting U.S.-Japan relations for over 120 years. Yoko Ono recognized this when she first visited the original site of the Ho-o-den in 2013. For her, this site has a unique and extraordinary past and future as symbol of peace. Not just between the U.S. and Japan, but among all people and all nations. In fact, we can all use more peace, not just internationally, but locally on our streets and our parks. She has given us an opportunity to learn about our past and create the future together. It is our responsibility to use it.

 

Gary Ossewaarde reports June 12, 2015:

Yoko Ono’s “SKY LANDING” inaugurated June 12 2015 on Wooded Island site of the historic Japanese Phoenix Pavilion from the Columbian Exposition in Jackson Park
By Gary M. Ossewaarde

On June 12, 2015 artist Yoko Ono celebrated SKY LANDING, her first permanent installation in the Americas, in a ground-breaking ceremony by the City of Chicago, the Chicago Park District, Project 120 Chicago, and Garden of the Phoenix Foundation. The ground has already been prepared with an elegant u-shaped, now turf-covered double mound designed by wHY LLC that will be landscaped. It will be the site, when dedicated in June 2016, a sculpture to be called SKY LANDING, by artist Yoko Ono and a marker—a space for both congregation and contemplation, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. No information was provided about the sculpture except as suggested by the title. The project is being funded with private money under direction of private-public partnership Project 120. The project was given several public and stakeholder vetting's.

The project is sited in Jackson Park, Chicago’s Wooded Island, on the site of the Phoenix Pavilion, a gift from Japan to Chicago at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and located next to the later Japanese Garden. SKY LANDING and the Garden together comprise The Garden of the Phoenix.

The ground-breaking event was designated a “Ground Healing,” to establish the site as a bridge between sky and earth. The public ceremony consisted of a stirring drum, music and dance performance led by award-winning Tatsu Aoki and his Miyumi Project featuring the Tsukasa Taiko drummers, an ensemble of three saxophones, flute, and bass, and a traditional Japanese fan dance. Any further ceremony after on the hill was perhaps postponed because of weather, but the weather could not dampen the enthusiasm and warmth. Ono said, “It is almost like Chicago and Japan, that there’s an incredible, intense opening of the heart from the Chicago end, and I didn’t even know that. It’s like, the intensity is almost insane. And I think ‘wow, this is incredible’”. Ono reflected that more Japanese should learn the Chicago-Japan story and give Chicago something back and that SKY LANDING can generate peace.

Context was given by host Robert Karr, and remarks made by Michael Moskow, Vice Chair and Distinguished Fellow, Global Economy of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Chairman of the Japan Society of Chicago; Tushiyuki Iwado, Council General of Japan at Chicago; Hon. Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago; Derek R.B. Douglas, Vice President for Civic Engagement, The University of Chicago; and Yoko Ono. Honored guests included descendants of J. Donnersberger, South Parks Board Commission Chairman 1893.

Outlined was the long and deep relationship between Japan and the United States (first treaty March 31, 1854) and Chicago (first visit by a Japanese mission in 1872 with a gift to the fire-ravaged city). The gift of the Phoenix Pavilion to the Columbian Exposition and as a permanent gift to the City of Chicago was carefully worked out, including with Fair designers Daniel Burnham and Frederick Olmsted, then inaugurated--also on a March 31 in 1893 at an elaborate convening of national and Fair officials and notables. The accompanying ceremony of the “landing” of the phoenix on the site helped inspire today’s SKY LANDING. The pavilion was modeled on a 12th century temple, shipped in sections from Japan, and assembled on the Island. The phoenix is associated with “kanji” (rebirth) and the idea that people and all are reborn on their 60th birthday and hence that history moves in cycles of 60 years. The pavilion was a well-used and loved facility in Chicago and by its growing Japanese community for many years. After its destruction by fire, four partially-burned panels were in storage for many years, but are now restored and on view in the Art Institute of Chicago.

SKY LANDING was conceived during an invited visit by Yoko Ono as Project 120 planted over 120 cherry trees as part of an evolving plan to restore and rethink the environs of the Japanese Garden and create ways that would serve as a living history lessons honoring Olmsted, the Columbian Exposition, the relationship with Japan, and the planting in 1913 of the cherry trees in Washington D.C. Cherry blossoms are iconic of spring in Japan and that appealed to Ono, as well as the site as the location at the Phoenix Pavilion, representing the Japan-Chicago relationship and at the center of major axes of both the park and the Columbian Exposition. Ono, releases state, was immediately drawn to and struck by the power of the place “I recall being immediately connected to the powerful site and feeling the tension between the sky and the ground. I wanted the sky to land here, to cool it, and make it well again.”

2013 marked the passage of two 60-year cycles since 1893 (celebrated with giant banners celebrating “120 Years” at today’s ground breaking.) Speakers noted that while the first cycle post-World’s Fair was marred by an era of disastrous relations between the U.S. and Japan; the second has been marked by deepening alliance and mutual reliance. SKY LANDING marks the start of a third cycle and that is celebrated by SKY LANDING, standing in as a reconstruction of the Phoenix Pavilion. SKY LANDING project’ undertaking today conveniently dovetails with the U.S. Army Corps reconstruction of Wooded Island and the lagoons and a larger framework planning to restore habitat and landscape in accord with Olmsted’s vision, but resilient and sustainable. And Mayor Emanuel also took advantage of the event to announce another aspect of the City’s renewal of its commitment to public art, 50 new pieces of art in each of the 50 wards.
Chicago Park District CEO and General Superintendent Michael Kelly said about SKY LANDING in a release, “The City of Chicago was honored to receive such a gift from Japan at the time of the World’s Columbian Exposition. Understanding our past and our relationship today as global partners, we are privileged that the site, with the addition of ‘SKY LANDING’ by Yoko Ono, will teach and inspire us and future generations who visit The Garden of the Phoenix.” It’s an expression of the “enduring legacy of Eastern and Western collaboration” and unity the city press release adds. Mayor Emanuel said, “We will be most honored with the only place in the Americas with her artwork, and I want to thank you for choosing Chicago for that.”

Yoko Ono is an internationally-renowned installation and performance artist who grew up in Japan and has kept her connections to her homeland strong. She has overseen large outdoor installations: in New York City’s Central Park (“Strawberry Fields”) and Reykjavik, Iceland (“Imagine Peace Tower”). SKY LANDING is her first permanent installation in the Americas. A retrospective is currently on view at the MOMA in New York. Ono is widow of John Lennon, and is devoted to peace, meditation, and mystic powers and significance.