Governors State University’s Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park dazzles art lovers in Chicago’s southern suburbs

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Illinois — Affectionately known as “theNate,” Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park is consistently recognized as America’s Best Sculpture Park, according to USA Today’s Readers’ Choice Awards in 2021.

The 100-acre Prairie Landscape Park has 31 monumental installations scattered across Governors State University’s 700-acre campus in University Park, Illinois.

“The Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park has a reputation for being here before the GSU was established,” said park superintendent and curator Jeff Stevenson. “The Manilow family [and] Lou Manilow had also invited Mark di Suvero to come and make his sculptures here in 1968.”

Suvero’s play, “Yes! For Lady Day” is one of the park’s most popular attractions. It is a monumental steel sculpture made from a salvaged tank car and I-beams that patrons are invited to climb into as it sways in the wind.

Another crowd favorite, Tony Tasset’s “Paul”, bears a resemblance to American folk hero Paul Bunyan. The hulking, sagging figure appears exhausted and tired, unlike the legend of tall tales, who is usually portrayed as proud and confident.

“He looks very down and sad, maybe he’s questioning his life choices,” said GSU student Eve Duray.

Despite last year’s accolade, many believe the park is underappreciated and would like to see more visitors enjoy the art and natural beauty of ‘theNate’.

“I believe it’s a hidden gem,” says Timothy Brennan, president of the Crete Creative Gallery & School in neighboring Crete. “It’s not just about art, it’s also about the environment. It’s about restoring grasslands, [and] It’s a matter of ecology.”

Stevenson said the combination of a small state university and a world-class sculpture park is an unlikely pairing, but having outdoor art on campus is a benefit for students and the community. surrounding.

“We are a free public resource. People can come here anytime [and] it’s a great way to experience nature,” Stevenson said.

“It’s so exciting that the sculpture park is part of the university,” Duray said. “It’s a very cool place.”

For more information, visit the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park website.

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