R4: recycled / reclaimed / reused / recrafted, Rockford Conservatory

Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens

“Chicago Sculpture Show Artists: June 27-August 23, 2015”

R4recycled-reclaimed-reused-recrafted, Rockford Conservatory

Rockford Park District’s Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. 2nd St., Rockford, IL, invites the public to view unique works of art this summer as it hosts for the second year “R4: recycled/reclaimed/reused/recrafted,” presented with Chicago Sculpture International Show, and Rockford Art Museum, June 27-August 23, 2015.

This show, by member artists of Chicago Sculpture International and other regional artists, features sculptures created from recycled and reclaimed materials, with artwork placed among the lush tropical plants in Nicholas Conservatory.

The R4  theme was chosen as a celebration of Nicholas Conservatory’s LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold status certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, signifying that the facility is built, operates, and maintains with as little negative impact on the environment as possible. R4 is curated by Carrie Johnson, Rockford Art Museum, and Lyndi Toohill, Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens.

By design, Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens is surrounded by art. The beautiful mural, gift shop gates, and terrazzo floor in the lobby, glass sculptures in the Conservatory, paintings in the classroom and offices, and more than ten public art sculptures gracing the nearby Rock River Recreation Path are all integral parts of the Conservatory’s master plan.

Chicago Sculpture International is an affiliate organization of the International Sculpture Center, and has held exhibits throughout the Chicago area, including three “Form in Flora” exhibits at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Conservatory; the exhibits were the inspiration for R4 at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens.







Chicago, IL. – June 19, 2015 – Artist Sharon Bladholm creates her sculptures the same way a plant grows: organically. “It starts with little pieces of clay, lump by lump, up and out, and eventually that extends into extreme shapes, a process which never would have happened by throwing my clay on a wheel.” Nowhere is this more apparent than in her sculpture “Spiky Asparagus”, a 33-inch tall ceramic piece made from materials that were recycled at least twice. This piece and others like it, will be on display for the public beginning June 27 at the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens in Rockford, IL.

This exhibit, aptly titled “R4: Recycled/Reclaimed/Reused/Recrafted, showcases sculptures made from recycled and reclaimed materials by artists who are members of Chicago Sculpture International. The theme for R4 was chosen in celebration of Nicholas Conservatory’s LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold status, awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. To achieve this status, the facility must be built and maintained with the minimum environmental impact.

The sculptures will be on display in the Conservatory’s lush, tropical plant setting through August 23rd.

“Nature is recycling all the time,” says Bladholm. “I enjoy the idea of clay being shaped and reshaped into new forms, echoing the transformation of energy that is all around us. As one tree decays and ultimately dies, it provides nutrients for new life.”

R4 will feature other pieces by Bladholm created from recycled and reused materials such as “Dancing Pod”, a free-flowing sculpture reminiscent of plants moving in the wind; and “Splash Pod”, which evokes a drop of water as it hits a pond. Other Chicago Sculpture International artists at this exhibit include Bruce Niemi’s “Suzi’s Garden Series”, an imposing nine foot tall stainless steel structure; and, Suzanne Cohan-Lange’s “The Warning”, two extraordinary 7-foot high recycled porch columns featuring gigantic hands at the top which are made from carved basswood.

In addition to Sharon Bladholm, Bruce Niemi and Suzanne Cohan-Lange, the R4 exhibit will display 11 sculptures by seven well-known Chicago sculptors including:

Margaret Lanternman

Fred Klingelhofer

Karen Gubitz

Margot McMahon

All these sculptures will be displayed amidst tropical flora in the 11,000 square foot conservatory, the third largest in Illinois.

“Conservatories are the closest one can get to rain forests in a city, and I love the biodiversity that they offer to city dwellers,” says Bladholm, who has visited rainforests, including the Amazon, for more than thirty years.   “This has profoundly influenced my work which interfaces art, science, nature and conservation.”

Chicago Sculpture International regularly holds exhibits throughout the Chicago area. The recent “Form in Flora” at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Conservatory was inspiration for R4 at the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens.

Admission to the R4 exhibit is $6.00 (residents) and $8.00 (non-residents) for adults and $4.00/$6.00 for ages 5-17.

About Chicago Sculpture International

Chicago Sculpture International advances the understanding and creation of sculpture as a unique and vital contribution to society. The CSI seeks to expand public understanding and appreciation of Chicago sculpture through exhibits and public forums on sculpture. The organization engages artists and art professionals in a dialogue to advance the art form, and promotes a supportive environment for sculpture.

About Nicholas Conservatory

Sitting on the banks of the Rock River, Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens brings the tropics to the Midwest. The third largest conservatory in Illinois, the 11,000 square foot plant exhibit includes water features, seating areas and sculptures.

The Conservatory is located at 1354 N. Second Street in Rockford, IL.

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