University Park, IL,
16:43 PM

Sculpture Wine and Dine, recognitions and innovations

I believe passionately in art, believe that it is one of our brain’s organizing systems, believe that one of the evolutionary reasons that it has survived and thrived for tens of thousands of years is that it does raise our aspirations and it helps us to imagine and achieve great goals.

Lewis Manilow

This year’s Seventh Annual Sculpture Wine and Dine at Governors State University’s (GovState) Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park (theNate) celebrated the park’s three-pillared mission: art, conservation and education by recognizing renowned artists, including Richard Hunt, and generous donors for their generous support. 

A star-lit sky provided a magical backdrop for the sold-out event that featured tours of the 100-acre sculpture park by golf cart, live music and a cocktail reception, followed by a farm-to-table dinner outdoors near the iconic  “Illinois landscape, No. 5.” The massive sculpture, lovingly nicknamed “French Fries," was at the center of the evening in honor of its sculptor, John Henry, who passed the previous year. 

“Illinois Landscape No. 5” or “French Fries” is so much a part of GovState’s identity,'' said Jeff Stevenson, Director and Curator of theNate,  "It’s this welcoming in and this connection in this community,” said Stevenson as he opened the evening by welcoming and thanking everyone for their efforts to make the event possible.


From left: Jeff Stevenson, 

Patricia Mell Ragland and 

Jason Zingsheim

In his welcome College of Arts and Sciences Dean Jason Zingsheim quoted theNate's founder Lewis Manilow. “I believe passionately in art…that one of the evolutionary reasons that it has survived and thrived for tens of thousands of years is that it does raise our aspirations and it helps us to imagine and achieve great goals.”  

Manilow donated the land for the theNate, as well as Governors State, and named it for his father, Nathan Manilow. In the summers of 1968 and 69,  Lewis Manilow loaned the use of a house on the land to artist Mark di Suvero, who created the seminal sculpture, “Yes, for Lady Day,'' which attracted other artists to the area.

Today, theNate is home to 30 sculptures and is ranked in the top 10 for best sculpture parks, which is growing in size and stature. Zingsheim delighted guests with a preview of next year's event , which will include a new acquisition. “Avian Station” by Bernard Williams is currently under construction and will complement the prairie restoration project known as the Butterfly Ranch, Zingsheim said.


From left: Patricia Mell 

Ragland, Paul Uzureau 

and Linda Uzureau

During a pre-dinner reception, honored guests were recognized by Patricia Mell Ragland, President of theNate Advisory Board. She presented the Visionary Award to fellow board member Paul Uzureau and his wife Linda for their devotion to the park. The award recognizes those whose actions advance the mission of theNate in a significant way.

Last year, theNate unveiled “Stargazing with Contrails” by Terry Karpowicz, whom the couple commissioned to create the piece for Governors State.

On Saturday, Paul Uzureau thanked theNate Advisory Board and called the award “unexpected.” As a member of board, he said he learned about the hard work that goes into the park’s operations and acquisitions. 

“Over the years, Linda and I have discovered the wonderful world of sculpture,” he said.  “Knowing how difficult it is to procure any new sculpture, we decided to go ahead and make a donation.” The Uzureaus have also started a New Acquisitions Fund to inspire others to contribute to the park’s next acquisition.

Meanwhile, three visiting artists –  Denise Milan, Indira Johnson and Eric Stephenson –  have works in the park this year and leaders are actively engaged in a new acquisition campaign to bring Neil Goodman’s “Sound of the Woods” to theNate. 

While speakers and organizers looked forward to new works and opportunities, one staple thrilled guests throughout the evening providing a colorful photo backdrop and a cool place to take in campus views.

“French Fries,” which  measures 134 feet in length, appears to dance across the campus and is an interactive work. Its size allows viewers to walk under and around it while observing how the light and shade play off the sculpture.

Large Planar Hybrid  1973-74
Large Planar Hybrid
Outgrown Pyramid II 1973
Outgrown Pyramid II

Kentucky-born sculptor, Henry acquired an appreciation of construction materials and techniques from his father, a construction engineer, and that informed his style of art. He was a founding member of a group of sculptors who championed the idea of placing large scale sculptures in public places, which eventually led to the debut of “Illinois Landscape No. 5” on GovState’s campus in 1976.

Another founding artist Richard Hunt also received a special tribute as theNate celebrates the 50-year anniversary of his two sculptures on display in the park, “Large Planar Hybrid” and “Outgrown Pyramid II.” Before the evening's event, Hunt attended a special reception in his honor where guests viewed his work throughout the evening in the Visual Arts Gallery.


Back: Tony Harris, Nate Sutton, 

Dennis Banks

Front: Angela Harris, Mallory Sutton

Sculpture Wine and Dine Co-Chairs Nate and Mallory Sutton came early to see Hunt. "We love his work,'' said Nate Sutton who later thanked guests for supporting developing young minds.

“We think the arts promote self-esteem and creativity and that's so, so important in our youth and our schools. Thank you for coming tonight,"  he said.