University Park, IL,
17:19 PM

New Sculpture, Large Gift Announced at Premier Cultural Event


Board President Patricia Mell Ragland made a surprise announcement. After selling a piece of property, the Manilow family decided to endow theNate with $250,000.


Artists mixed with local dignitaries and creative scholars during the recent Sculpture, Wine and Dine, the premier cultural event of the year at Governors State University’s Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park. This year, the event on Sept. 11 honored artist Richard Hunt and welcomed a new sculpture installation called “Stargazing with Contrails.”

On the balmy summer night, guests enjoyed cocktails and tours of the sculpture park by golf cart, followed by dinner and drinks outdoors under tents near to GSU’s massive “Illinois Landscape, No. 5” sculpture.

Off in the distance guests could see “Stargazing with Contrails,” metal sculpture by artist Terry Karpowicz, an acquisition made possible through the generosity of Paul and Linda Uzureau.

Chicago-based artist Karpowicz said he began conceptualizing the piece in 1982, when he first visited GSU. Lewis Manilow, for whose father the park is named, bought a sculpture from him at a Navy Pier expo, and when Karpowicz drove south from Chicago to deliver it to Manilow in University Park, he was struck by the beauty of the local landscape.

“I realized once I came out here, the vastness of the skies and the prairie. I remember looking up at night, and there’s no ambient light out here so you could see multiple stars you couldn’t see in Chicago. You can also see planes in the sky, and sometimes the contrails cross, and that was also an inspiration,” Karpowicz said.

“So I've been playing with these ideas of the circle and angle and lines for a long time. The Uzureaus helped me realize the dream of this moment, and I’m thrilled with the result.”

Jeff Stevenson, Director and Curator of The Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park (theNate), opened the evening by thanking the university’s many department staff and volunteers who helped make the event possible. He also recognized the significance of hosting the event on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

“It’s fun to plan a party, but we have to recognize this anniversary and acknowledge all the lives lost 20 years ago today,” Stevenson said, before asking those gathered to join him in a moment of silence.

Later, GSU’s new president Dr. Cheryl Green took the stage to the event exceeded even her loftiest expectations. Green told the crowd that she was overjoyed to see everyone in person, and to be surrounded by the natural beauty of GSU’s campus and its “amazing artwork.”

She reminded guests that theNate won the honor of Best Sculpture Park in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice contest, and referenced the uniqueness of the sculpture park’s setting.

“This is such an unusual pairing of theNate, a world-class art collection of significant artists’ works, and GSU, a regional comprehensive state university,” Green said.

“What a great opportunity for our students to expand their cultural knowledge. I hope they get to know the collections during their time with us. I hope they get to feel that theNate is their sculpture park, their art, and that they discover ways to interact that enrich their lives and makes learning … dynamic and creative.”

With COVID protocols in place, food items at dinner arrived individually wrapped. Also, guests wore masks when they entered the university building and Visual Arts Gallery to view the special exhibit “Crowd Gate” by Rodrigo Lara Zendejas or watch a screening of “Searching for Lady Day: A Portrait in Steel,” a 28-minute documentary featuring sculptor Mark di Suvero.

The evening also included a musical tribute to artist Richard Hunt, who has two sculptures on display at theNate, with an original composition written in his honor and performed by Ernest Dawkins and the Young Masters.

“Richard Hunt was instrumental in establishing the collection,” Stevenson said. “I wonder if he knew then what we know now — that he would go on to be a national treasure, and one of the most influential artists of our time.”

Capping off the event’s excitement, theNate Advisory Board President Patricia Mell Ragland made a surprise announcement. After selling a piece of property, the Manilow family decided to endow theNate with $250,000.

“We’re so grateful that a promise made so long ago by the Manilow family was fulfilled by this gift,” Ragland said.