Prairie Crossing celebrates in art the elements of the natural world that make this place so distinctive. When Prairie Crossing was just beginning, the developers asked Terry Evans, a prairie photographer newly arrived in Chicago from Kansas, to take the photographs of the Liberty Prairie Reserve that hang in the Byron Colby Barn. Terry is now famous for her large-scale aerial views of the Chicago region that brought crowds to Millenium Park in 2005. They are beautifully reproduced in Revealing Chicago, published by Harry N. Abrams, including aerials of the Prairie Crossing Farm and Village Green. Terry’s photographs of the Liberty Prairie Reserve gave Prairie Crossing a strong sense of its place in the historic oak savannas, prairies and farmland of the Reserve.
Then attention turned mainly to the architectural and landscape arts, with the commissioning of new houses designed in Midwest traditions with colors drawn from the prairie palette and Mike Sands’ development of the art of native landscaping. Over time more public art was added, including the brightly painted tractor seats along the trails – a celebration of this area’s agricultural roots – and the two wooden frogs that leap into Lake Leopold near the Village Green (folk art finds from the Lake County Antiques Fair). Any walk through Prairie Crossing trails reveals numerous private additions to this outdoor art collection. The elegant Chicago cow from the 1999 Chicago Cows on Parade exhibit, contemplating the prairie behind her split-rail fence, is just one fine example.
In the spring of 2006, three sculptures by the artist Mark White were added to celebrate the prairie wind that is so characteristic of our site. Located in the common land north of the boat dock, each one is designed to move differently in the wind. Mark White came from Centralia in downstate Illinois and is no stranger to the prairie wind. However, told by his father that there was no living to be made as an artist, he spent the first part of his career in the heating, ventilating and air conditioning business. Now he sells his sculpture all over the country from his home and studio in New Mexico. He is fascinated by the mechanics of the wind and or perception of its movement. His sculptures reflect not only art but science; their movement is delicately balanced, the result of detailed calculations and experimentation. They are on study poles above reach to protect them; please don’t interfere with them, just enjoy watching them move.
The fountain in Station Square features landscape art by Sven Schunemann, celebrating the place of water in our native landscape and featuring a great glacial boulder found when Lake Aldo Leopold was excavated. Sounds of falling water carry beautifully around Station Square. The fountain originally featured a replica of the magic pebble found in William Steig’s children’s book, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.