Public art fans are heading to Chicago through August. Chicago’s parks are hosting their fourth (and final) sculpture exhibit. It’s called “Activate Chicago with Sculpture.”

Activating Chicago seems to be a great title. Educating people and letting them feel “the power sculpture has of transforming a space” is the goal, says Bob Emser.

Bob’s the founding President of Chicago Sculpture International, which is putting on the exhibit with the Chicago Park District. He’s also a sculptor. (More on him in a moment.)

Check out the photos above by Jyoti Srivastava. They’re just a few of the 64 sculptures on Lake Michigan, from Belmont Harbor south to Promontory Point Park. For more photos by Jyoti, see Chicago Sculpture International‘s site.

Bob Emser and Public Art

Bob’s public art sculptures have been seen all over the world. On four continents and in seven countries.

The ones closest to his heart would look familiar, especially if you or your siblings ever made model airplanes. Before Bob was a sculptor, he made model airplanes with his dad, a mechanical engineer, on the kitchen table.

Although Bob wanted to be an architect, he caught the sculpting bug as an undergrad at Eureka College in Illinois. Later, he got an M.A. in Fine Arts from Bradley University in Peoria. Now he’s happy bringing his love of sculpture to the citizens of Chicago.

That love of model planes has transcended time and carries over to his work now, along with a new-found fondness for nautical themes.

Public Art Challenges

Bob says there were huge challenges setting up this exhibit. The sculptures are surrounded by the Chicago River, skyscrapers, and transit tunnels below. That meant no cranes or heavy machinery.

So this public art had to be relatively light-weight and temporary sculptures. (After installation an overly demonstrative commuter actually broke the glider, which was made of marine plywood not balsa).

In an article in the Chicago Sun Times last fall, he said, “I like to say it’s ‘civic art.’ It’s really about civilization and making civilization a happier place.”