Welcome to the September 2011 J.P.A.C. Newsletter online.

Jackson Park/JPAC homepage (http://www.hydepark.org/parks/jpac.html).
hydepark.org Parks homepage

TAKE OUR SURVEY! You can find here and print (and return as therein), or take a slightly different version online in our new website, or ask us for earlier paper versions, as was mailed with the July 2011 Newsletter.

Visit our new official website: http://www.jacksonparkadvisorycouncil.org.

Published by Jackson Park Advisory Council, a recognized advisory body to the Chicago Park District, Chicago Illinois

Editor Gary Ossewaarde, JPAC Secretary. Hosted by hydepark.org, website of Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (owner, hpkcc@aol.com) by OnShore Communications.


Jackson Park Advisory Council August 8 2011 Advisory Council mtg.

Louise McCurry opened the meeting at 7:30 p.m., a quorum being present.

President’s report included pictures of the cleaned up and pruned areas near LaRabida and on Promontory Circle.
She, Dwight Powell, and Robert McCurry-Davis distributed surveys and interacted with many at the South Shore Jazz Festival and Louise and Gary Ossewaarde at the Highlands Fling in South Shore.

Louise suggested that consideration be given to using the Music Court south of the MSI south parking lot for nature and history talks and activities, storytelling, theater/performance and concerts. “Let’s get to know the park” tours could start from there. Members expressed support for making this a “preferred JPAC project” including for fundraising.

Louise also reported on a visit to Humboldt Park, whose fieldhouse has a nice art exhibit and exhibit space. Members thought having a small space for kid’s and members’ art, and a room with Wi-Fi for kids to do computer homework would help bring the fieldhouse up to date and make it more attractive and usable, and so these should also be on a projects list. Members noted some of the foundation and other sources that might fund such programs and facilities.

In order to enhance our support of the kid’s camp program, JPAC voted last month to explore getting/paying for backpacks and school supply kits for the campers. Louise reported these were donated and were distributed at day camp graduation. At the graduation, kids also received plaques with their pictures. Members expressed enthusiastic thanks for this donation by the Walgreen’s 71st and Jeffery store. Attendees signed a thank you letter to the manager.

Louise reported that Jackson Park hosted the Area 3 South Region budget hearings. Most of the PACs from area parks spoke. Louise spoke about unsafe bad walks and stairs such as at the LaRabida area, the deteriorating historic Darrow Bridge, a vintage bathroom station near LaRabida that had been restored and was functioning a few years ago, but doesn’t now and instead is an unsanitary dumping ground for park users who doesn’t have functioning facilities nearby. (This facility was subsequently being inspected by CPD.)

Louise reported that half the soccer fields have been taken up for rehabilitation (soccer teams will be relocating play elsewhere) and that the new and reconstructed artificial track and field was underway and would be completed sometime in the fall. The funder of the field, Traubert-Pritzker Foundation/Take the Field and park district invited the PAC to a walk through and discussion and offered several dates, Louise reported. Today’s meeting chose August 30 6 p.m., at the track (rain date 31st).

Financial. Treasurer Dwight Powell reported little activity, with a balance of c.$5,569.

July Minutes. Gary Ossewaarde. A question was raised on the appropriation voted in July for quick needs for ongoing projects. This will be adjusted. On motion of Jerry Levy, the minutes were accepted as corrected.

Volunteer workdays. Jerry Levy reported that the Bells will hold the regular Bobolink workday August 13 9-noon and that when finished volunteers were welcome after 10 to join a team of Loyola and Rush radiologists on Wooded Island to rake and plant seeds on a part of the WI west trail. Jerry thanked park district and contractor for replacement plantings- 5 large resistant elms, 9 burr oaks, and 16 shrubs including viburnum. They will be under warrantee. He also reported that work was done clearing invasives including goldenrod along 400 feet south of Osaka Garden. There will be some herbicide applied, in preparation for planting. August 27 was scheduled for Wooded Island workday 2-5 p.m. (A.m. by LaRabida was later dropped.) Some signs for use day-of-work will call attention to where to find the volunteer work in progress.

Louise described more progress opening up and clearing at LaRabida. Two large student groups helped out. There are large stretches where one can now sit by the water, and musicians have started to perform various spots and times of day. Further opening will have to be deferred as a lot of redwing blackbirds have moved in.2 A policeman now sits by an area which had been frequented by drug dealers and prostitutes, who have now moved out of the Promontory and golf east edge sector.

Louise asked for help continuing edging along the 60th tennis courts, to keep mud from washing over the courts and clogging the drains. The dirt is used to fill potholes. Scheduled: Sunday afternoon Aug. 14, 2 p.m.

Natural areas/birds. Pat Durkin said that lots of people come on the walks. This is shore bird migration season, and three green herons and a family of wood ducks, were among sited on the Island, and sandpipers are at 63rd.

Gary Ossewaarde reported the Park District website says the Army Corps project at 63rd is completed. Members noted expressed concerns about loss of beach and picnic area and impassible trails to the drumming circle, east beach, and pier on east side.

Park and Program. William Tillis, Supervisor, and Eric Hammond, rec. leader reported.
Day camp had 175 children enrolled and parent participation.
August 19 a 2 week sports camp would commence. Louise said a surprise would be coming from JPAC.
Junior Bears are underway and will play Wells Park August 20. About 85 aged 8-12 participate.
September 19-December 4 fall afterschool camp for ages 6-12, cost $80 per. Call about remaining slots.
The Turkey Trot (games and races on November 18) needs about 50 turkeys to give to the families. Members of the council agreed to pursue vendor donation.

Problems in the park: Esther Schechter furnished description/directions to some long-standing graffiti on the Hayes Bridge, hard to see from the road but all too visible from the walk. This would be reported.
Pat Durkin reported trash Saturday mornings in/by Osaka indicating nighttime “bacchanals” continue or resume. This will be called to attention of police, who have been very vigilant the past several months.
The council brainstormed about whom to engage regarding prioritizing Darrow bridge safety and repair.

Fundraising, Planning and Programming. Committee meeting is scheduled for August 24 6:30. A draft 1-, 2-, and 3-year action plan drawn up by Judith Hill was circulated.
Members noted that a key goal is a dog park. Louise said most work at the proposed site is done, but the quote for a dog friendly fountain with hose is very high. Various park needs were discussed for work orders or budget request (hearing date not then known).

The meeting was adjourned about 9 p.m. Next meeting Monday, September 12. That meeting will decide re: October meeting due to Columbus holiday- TUESDAY OCT. 11 or normal Monday at a different location.

Respectfully submitted, Gary M. Ossewaarde, Secretary


BUDGET HEARING SO REGION SEPT. 27 TUES. SO SH CULT’L CTR. 5:30 sign up to speak, starts 6 pm.

Check for spaces still open in the Park District Nature Oasis Family Camping program September 10 and 11. They will be in front of Osaka Garden on the 10th.

Bird walks Weds. at 7 a.m., Sats. at 8 a.m. from the Darrow Bridge south of MSI pond.

August 27, Saturday, 11 am-2 pm. SPECIAL BEACH SWEEP WITH CHICAGO CONSERVATION CORPS (C3). Meet in parking lot se of Museum (access off LSD at 5800), park close to underpass to 57th Beach. Nametags, supplies, ecol. overview in parking lot. AFTERNOON TOURS OF THE SMART HOME (free to first 15 to sign up). Join us in our efforts to help clean up around 57th Street Beach; 59th street underpass; and surrounding pockets that are unfortunately dumping grounds for non-recyclable items. Our goal is to gather volunteers that don't mind donating a little of their time to help make a measurable impact in our community.

Wooded Island workdays 4th Saturdays 2-5 p.m.- August 27, September 24, October 22. Contact Jerry Levy sjlevy@jeromelevylaw.com, ask to be on the notification email list. Meets at Darrow bridge so of MSI.
There will be a work opportunity after WI work by La Rabida Hospital. (La Rabida work may return to 3rd Saturday mornings in September- contact Louise at 773 844-2225.) 3

Bobolink Meadow workdays 2nd Saturdays 9-noon- September 10, October 8, Nov. 12? Contact Norm Bell at parrybell@comcast.net or 773 288-1260, visit http://home.comcast.net/~normbell43/bobolink/home.htm.

Phoenixes from Columbian Exposition find safe, viewable nests at last

Phoenixes from Columbian Exposition on View again at last

by Gary Ossewaarde

The Art Institute of Chicago’s Asian Galleries have become a fitting home for four carved and painted wooden panels that once were the highlight of Japan’s exhibit at the Columbian Exposition of 1893, the Hoh-o-den, in the north end of Jackson Park’s Wooded Island, just to the west of the modern Osaka Japanese Garden. After careful restoration, the panels are mounted on permanent view above display cases and the entry to a special contemplative room within the Japanese and Asian Galleries of the Weston Wing, Michigan Avenue first floor.

The panels (ramma), each of two planks, were deeply and elaborately carved and heavily painted and applied with gold leaf, as was commonly done to add brightness in Japanese temples. The two mythical birds on each panel, depicted as a cross between pheasant and peacock, are sharp-beaked. On one both phoenixes have open mouths, on two one’s mouth is open and the other closed (oppositely), and the final has both with closed mouth-- representing perhaps dichotomy and complement, yin and yang. Phoenixes are said to mate for life, living in pines and paulownia (a blue-flowered plant, where they prefer to land).

Phoenixes are said to appear in the realm when there is a great ruler. Since the Columbian Exposition followed Japan’s Meiji Restoration (opening up, modernization, and strong government), the phoenix was an especially appropriate emblem to display, and Japan was especially eager to show its culture, wares, modernization and strength to the world by donating pavilions and reproductions of temples and tea houses at international expositions. The Phoenix Hall was a highlight of the Fair, set apart on the Island that was intended in part to serve as a respite and elaborate garden. (The Tea House was on the mainland.) The Phoenix Hall (Hoh-o-den) was the first Japanese-style building in the U.S. and was modeled on the 11th century Byodo-in temple of Uji near Osaka. Skilled craftsmen were sent from Japan and lived during construction in a small village in the south part of Wooded Island. The phoenix panels were made by master sculptor Takamura Kuon (1852-1934). The Phoenix Hall made a special impression on Frank Lloyd Wright, who called special attention to it as, among other things, an “unmasked” structure revealing what can be done with fine craftsmanship and everyday materials, and its interconnecting corridors and holistic flow, in contrast to what he considered the reversion and stilted froth of most of the White City. Others recognized its importance—Harper’s printed the plan and had a reporter chronicle construction.

The 1893 Ho-o-Den (Phoenix "Temple") consisted of three structures joined by covered walkway to form the shape of the phoenix bird, which it did resemble from ground level). The beams and joinery were part of the beauty and ornament. Inside were artifacts and treasures from three periods of Japanese history-scrolls, vases, decorative screens, writing materials, and musical instruments. A major feature was the lanterns-- both the elaborate stone ones and the paper lanterns at ceiling level. The elements and art were designed and crafted in Japan and brought over by steamer and train, along with carpenters, stone workers and gardeners. The construction itself was an activity that drew many visitors. A reporter wrote, "They move about serenely as if it were a pleasure to work."

After the Fair, the temple and its panels were given to Chicago by the Japanese government. They suffered gradual neglect, and in 1935 the remaining structure was made a tea house serving food and beverages. A succession of controversially set fires occurred in the mid 1940s and destroyed the structure and severely damaged the panels, which were placed in storage by Chicago Park District- under the bleachers of Soldier Field. About 1973, they were found- two were sent to the Art Institute of Chicago and two were displayed in a hallway at UIC.

Eventually UIC realized money for restoration was unlikely UIC and now-emeritus UIC architecture chair David Sokol started to look for a new home, first choice being AIC. In 2005 he got an enthusiastic yes by Janice Katz, Associate Curator of Japanese Art at the Art Institute. The vision was to reunite, restore, and permanently display the panels when the Asian galleries were renovated. The panels were donated in 2008, gallery renovation begun, and in 2010 the panels were sent to be restored in by Litas Liparini Studio in Evanston. Restoration was very complex. Soot had to be removed without creating damage, beaks re-carved in linden based on clay molds, lost areas built up with gesso and pigment built up over gesso and micaceous replacement for gold applied so as to match present look and make the panels look “gracefully aged” rather than new. The panels were installed August 1 and 2 of 2011 and are now on permanent view beside other arts and crafts of Japan, sacred and secular, as in 1893. Today you can also visit, on Jackson Park’s Wooded Island, Osaka Japanese Garden with a Toro gate, tea house, real and replica 1893 stone lanterns and other objects. All are carefully tended by members of Friends of the Japanese Garden and the excellent contract firm Clauss Brothers.