Michael Helbing's "Wicker Tree"
Special Service Area #33
by Mike Helbing
The Wicker Park Bucktown Special Service Area #33 actively works to keep the arts vibrant within our community. We are pleased to partner with the Chicago Parks District to realize Mike Helbing's Wicker Tree in one of our neighborhood's most prominent public spaces. The Wicker Tree is "striking, eye catching, beautiful, unique, green, and a touch point for the community," says Helbing. The sculpture consists of "a structure resembling a woven wicker tree that soars 25 to 30 feet high with an asymmetrical crown that extends 28 to 40 feet."
The SSA commissioned sculpture, constructed of alloy 316 stainless steel, includes moving elements in the canopy. These parts are made of this stainless ribbons that are welded into hanging forms resembling the leaves and branches of a weeping willow. These facets reflect light from the surrounding environment and are ever flowing and rustling in the wind creating the mimicking the sound of a forest breeze. Wicker Tree honors the urban trees of Wicker Park and Bucktown and the ongoing plantings and maintenance efforts of SSA #33 in keeping our neighborhoods green.
Helbing's practice seeks a personal understanding of the human place in the natural order of things. Helbing studied art at Ball State University and received his Master of Fine Art degree in Sculpture from Northern Illinois University. He has installed prior public work in Hutchinson, Kansas; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Quebec, Canada. Learn more by visiting the artist's website.
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The Wicker Tree is rooted in Wicker Park, northwest of the Field House, near the playground, at the northwest entrance to the park. The installation will stand for a duration of five years with the possibility of extending the agreement after inspection and approval by the Chicago Parks District. The potential for extended or permanent installation is contingent on public reception and the visual success of the artwork.