Another piece of public art is going on display in Grant Park. It’s a monument to Polish composer Frédéric Chopin, and is being paid for by the Chicago branch of the Chopin Foundation.
You may have noticed that the part of Grant Park that runs along Michigan Avenue south of the Art Institute of Chicago is divided into little “rooms.” Each has a garden, or a sculpture, or both. This new Chopin monument will go south of the Logan Monument, behind the Montgomery Ward bust, in the median of the pedestrian and bicycle path that leads to the 11th Street Bridge over the Metra and South Shore Electric tracks. This area was renovated in recent years, but was actually earmarked for a monument or fountain way back in the Daniel Burnham’s Plan of Chicago.
In spite of Chicago’s huge classical music scene, this is sadly not an original work for the Windy City. It is a ¾-size version of Wacław Szymanowski’s 1907 Chopin statue that currently stands in Warsaw’s Royal Baths Park (Łazienki Park).
It will be 15-feet-tall, standing on a five-foot-tall pedestal, constructed in alternating light and dark bricks to symbolize a piano keyboard. The base, designed by Ridgeland Associates in Oak Park, is also envisioned as a 35-foot diameter performance space.
The Chopin Foundation has been working on this project for almost four years, and now that everything is in place, it will be another two years before the statue is actually unveiled for the public to see. By then, the Foundation hopes that small classical music concerts can be arranged for the performance space/pedestal in the warmer months. And if not, maybe classical music students will choose this location to practice their vocation and seek inspiration.