Riverwalk forefathers to be cast in bronze
July 15, 2005 — Source: Naperville Sun, The (IL)
Bronze likenesses of two major players in the creation of the Riverwalk will soon greet visitors coming downtown from the south.
The Century Walk's 25th piece of public art, its second work to be located on the downtown riverside path, is planned for installation in the area of the under-reconstruction Main Street bridge and will depict former Mayor Chester Rybicki and businessman Jim Moser, who worked together to create the linear park more than a quarter century ago.
"The mission of the Century Walk is to honor significant people, places and events in Naperville during the last century, via public art," Brand Bobosky, Century Walk Corp. president, said Thursday. "This particular one kind of fulfills all three arenas."
The $90,000 piece is being commissioned through the Joliet organization Friends of Public Art. Funds will come from the $191,100 allocation given to Century Walk by the city through its culture fund program.
The design is set, showing the two local icons facing west, Moser gesturing upstream with Rybicki at his side.
"The challenge in this project is to make the two men emblematic of community cooperation on the building of the Riverwalk," Kathleen Farrell, a principal with Friends of Public Art, wrote in an e-mail to The Sun. "Rybicki will have in his hands a form that has relief images of people laying brick and planting flowers. This refers to the hundreds of people working with the committee head Jim Moser and with the support of the city of Naperville represented by Chet Rybicki. I want to have the poses be active and have movement referring to the dynamic energy necessary to develop the Riverwalk Park."
Bobosky noted that many played integral roles in the arrival of the Riverwalk on a formerly blighted strip of downtown land, and many of them will be named on a plaque to be placed alongside the new piece.
"The city had set aside some land that was previously commercial and rather dumpy," Bobosky said. "Then the citizens -- and there were a number of them, they certainly all could not be portrayed, but Jim Moser headed up the citizens aspect of it, and built the walkway in the initial two blocks of it -- and the citizens got active in planting flowers and laying brick. So that was just a tremendous project that involved the city and the residents."
Yet to be determined is the location of the sculpture along the Riverwalk. Although the Century Walk board originally hoped to put it on the bridge itself, the group now favors placing it on an overlook southeast of the span, north of Walgreens.
Bobosky said the bridge location proved problematic when it was decided the design of the sculpture would require visitors to encircle the figures to see their details entirely.
"We just thought for safety reasons that this might entice people to try to climb on the sculptures, balance between the railing and the sculptures, and just create an unsafe situation," Bobosky said.
He emphasized that the adjacent overlook is on the Riverwalk and that the proposed site is still part of the "gateway to the downtown" being created by the city on Main Street. But members of the Riverwalk Commission aired their doubts this week, describing the site as less a Riverwalk location than a piece of the drug-store parking lot.
The commissioners noted that they have not yet given their input on the placement of the sculpture. The City Council and Park District also must weigh in, but the formal application process has not yet been followed, officials said.
"How can the Century Walk go ahead with monies provided by the city in such an irresponsible way?" commission member and former mayor Peg Price said.
Commission chairman Rick Hitchcock, who told the group he planned to be in touch with Bobosky to discuss the matter, suggested that communication about the project needs to be more thorough.
"It's not as though we're trying to obstruct great ideas," he said.
Bobosky stressed that the decision to seek approval of the spot southeast of the bridge was made with care.
"The first thing (visitors) are going to see, welcoming them as it were to Naperville, will be these two people," he said. "We didn't take a dart and throw it at the board and say, `This is where it goes.'"
The only Century Walk art now on the Riverwalk is the sculpture of Walter and Grace Fredenhagen that was installed June 15 just east of Washington Street, in the park that sits on land donated by the couple's family and bears their name.
Contact staff writer Susan Frick Carlman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (630) 416-5260.