Finding Works by a world famous artist on a walk.
I noticed a War Memorial when I was walking my dog to Kenilworth beach so I decided to take a closer look. A bronze plaque mounted on a pink granite boulder, located at the back of a park next to the village hall on Kenilworth Aveneue. It was a bas relief of a woman and a list of the men from Kenilworth killed in World War I. To my surprise, I saw that it was signed by Albin Polasek, a Czech sculptor with a Chicago connection. The plaque is inscribed with this message “Let’s make the earth a garden where deeds of the valiant may blossom and bear fruit.”
That led me to take another look at the larger than life black bronze sculpture at the Chicago Botanic Garden, located on The Esplanade between the Regenstein Building and the North Lake. On a closer examination, I found that “The Sower” was by Albin Polasek, completed by in 1907. When it was created, there was no Chicago Botanic Garden, so who commissioned it and how did it get there?
The Art Institute purchased “The Sower“, Polasek’s best known work and displayed it near the Michigan Ave entrance for years. It went off display was put in storage until it was given to the Chicago Park District to be displayed at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois. The Garden’s statement states ” ‘The Sower’ celebrates the garden’s historic relationship with the Art Institute while acknowledging the Garden’s dedication to spreading the seeds of learning about plants and the natural world.”
Albin Polasek was born in what is now the Czech Republic in 1879. He left to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1901. In 1916, he was invited to head the department of sculpture at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, and remained there for thirty years. His sculptures are located all over Europe and the United States and at his home in retirement in Winter Park, Florida, now a museum. “The Sower“, the sculpture at the Botanic Garden was one of Polaseck’s early and most acclaimed works, won an honorable mention at the Paris Salon in 1913.
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