Get Outside The Gallery!
When you think of artistic attractions, your mind may go toward art galleries and indoor exhibits, but the Chicago Southland has its share of art displayed in public places - sculptures and statues, murals and memorials in view to be admired.
An eclectic and diverse collection of large-scale artwork sits on over 100 acres of prairie landscape on the campus of Governors State University in University Park. A total of 29 pieces (24 in the permanent collection and five works on long-term loan from the artists) make up the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park. The park has evolved over the past four decades as works of steel and fiberglass and concrete were added.
The Flossmoor Sculpture Gardens were established in 1998 and the first of its kind in the Chicago area, designed by noted landscape architect Peter Lindsay Schaudt. Along with pieces located in Flossmoor’s village square, sculptures are also located on charming regional streets.
The Art Garden of Palos Heights features outdoor sculptures, eco-friendly gardens and murals in a space that was once a ComEd transformer site. The destination can be reached via the Cal-Sag bike trail.
Homewood has the largest collection of Richard Haas murals on the planet. The world-renowned painter specializing in large, hyper-realistic illustration murals began creating his collection of 15 pieces within the Village of Homewood in the 1980s. The technique, a style called Trompe-l’œil, meaning “deceive the eye” in French, creates a visual three-dimensional illusion. His colorful depictions of American life with local, regional and historic elements bring a creative and optimistic vibe to the community.
Additional murals can be found along Lincoln Highway, America’s first coast-to-coast road. Dedicated in 1913 and running about 25 miles between New Lenox and Lynwood, this section contains the Illinois Lincoln Highway Murals, a series of nine murals that were completed in 2012 that feature local and national Lincoln Highway history as well as three interpretive gazebos.
Don’t forget to check out the 20 handcrafted “Benches on the Avenue” along Oak Park Avenue in beautiful downtown Tinley Park. The colorful benches feature the work of both amateur and professional artists, and provide spots to rest while strolling through town. The benches are on display from mid-May to October 1st. Past themes include Treasured Family Musicals, Power of Music, Fairy Tale Festival, America the Beautiful, Hooray for Hollywood and Benches in Toyland.
Throughout the Chicago Southland you will find memorials dedicated to those who have served in the military, as first responders and public servants. Tanks, helicopters and steel remnants of the World Trade Center have been erected in communities as a reminder of the sacrifices made for our country and fellow citizens.
Located on the corner of Burnham Avenue and Glenwood-Lansing Road and in front of the Lansing Municipal Airport, the Lansing Veterans Memorial exudes symbolism of war and sacrifice in many forms - from the sculpture of a pained soldier carrying his injured comrade to the Huey helicopter to the plants that mimic those from a Vietnam battlefield to the depictions of veterans of past conflicts etched on the granite wall aside the names of the fallen. The South Holland Veterans Memorial features a World War II-era Sherman tank and a monument with plaques reflecting the number of casualties from each war. The Eternal Flame Veterans Monument in Worth includes five interwoven pieces of steel for the flame, representing the branches of the military. In Oak Lawn, the Oak Lawn Veterans Memorial contains the names of Oak Lawn residents who have died serving their country. Also, in Oak Lawn, the 9/11 First Responders Memorial incorporates four pieces of steel from the World Trade Center and pillars that were sculpted into a piece to honor the victims of 9/11 and those who serve the Chicago Southland as first responders. The Allemong Memorial Bell is located in Matteson, dedicated in 1958 for Frank Allemong, the man who served as village president for 21 years. Find a complete listing of memorials at VisitChicagoSouthland.com/Memorials.
Sitting high atop Kings Heating and Refrigeration in Oak Forest is King Tin Man, an imitation of the muffler men that dotted American roadways in the 1960s. A fixture since 1972, this beloved metal man with his Prince Charming crown is sure to win your heart. He’s one of several quirky roadside pieces that will brighten your travels. For other roadside attractions go to VisitChicagoSouthland.com/TopTenRoadsideAttractions.