A Few Words About "Position"
There is an oasis on the near North side of Chicago in the Old Town neighborhood, at the end of Wisconsin, where it intersects with Mohawk. After being desensitized by the architectural Frankensteins of the nouveau-riche that assault you for blocks from the east, or the soul destroying public housing that leads to it from the west, you come across a small clearing (you can’t call it a park, there isn’t as much as a bench here.) This long space with a brick walkway lined by trees is the yearlong home of “Position,” a remarkable sculpture by Dusty Folwarczny; one of twenty sculptures that make up the Lakefront Sculpture Exhibit. This space is an oasis of order over chaos, where you can’t help but stop and drink in what you find.
The first impression of “Position” is that of the classic monolith on a pedestal, but take a closer look. It stands over seven feet tall; made of steel and painted black so that in the bright sun it takes on an almost copper sheen. Dusty, like David Smith and Sir Anthony Caro, works primarily in recycled steel, and simple shapes. “Position” is comprised of seven large cylinders stacked one on top of the other. The middle cylinder is turned ninety degrees to those above and below. Maybe it’s the way the cylinders are placed, the appearance that with one good push they could go over like building blocks, or the way the middle cylinder is set on its side, letting you look through the piece, the thinness of the steel, whatever optical illusion is at play, “Position” feels much lighter than it’s 800 lbs.
Residing on this small sliver of urban walkway which connects two residential streets; it is flanked on one side by the classic red brick of an old Victorian structure and, more strikingly, on the other side by a house of modern design. The fat black horizontals of the sculpture pop against the long orange and burnt red slats of the home. The dark bay of windows that rise up two-stories is picked up by the sculpture and provide it with lift. Trees planted along either edge of the walk add a natural element and soften the space.
Draw closer and you notice the vertical weld lines of “Position” providing a counterpoint to the strong horizontals. Gaze up into the core and you’ll see that the inside has not been fully painted. As the work ages rust will begin forming from the inside out giving the piece another fascinating contrast; I look forward to the effect of the changing seasons.
It’s my personal belief that a work of art, once it leaves the artist’s hands and is put into the public space, belongs to those who experience it, and as such can be whatever the viewer wants it to be. Dusty has said that this piece represents her place within her family. To me, it’s a reaction to the modern McMansions lining our gentrified city streets with their out of place interpretations of classical elements; “Position” is a column ripped apart, reformed, and remade so that it now stands as something infinitely more dignified.