de Burgos Park, Julia: Playground Art
In 2009, the Chicago Park District created a 0.4-acre park in the Logan Square neighborhood. More recently named Julia de Burgos Park, the green space provides an access point for Bloomingdale Trail, a three-mile-long recreational park and pathway that is being constructed along an old elevated rail line. Working with landscape architects Smith Group JJR, the park district held community meetings to generate design concepts for the unimproved site. Community members asked for a playground with nontraditional play equipment and suggested a nature inspired theme for the design. The Chicago Public Art Group was commissioned to provide a community art component.
The playground features a net climber that emulates a spiderweb. Nearby, a sculptural spider sits on a flat web design that adorns the rubberized play surface below it. Phil Schuster of the Chicago Public Art Group created the three-dimensional spider from a durable form of fiberglass on which children can sit and climb. The whimsical creature is covered with flowers, leaves, and other vegetation. Related nature-themed elements are incorporated into a low seating wall located next to the sidewalk that leads to the playground. The bench is flanked by a pair of sculptural tree stumps. The sides of the wall and the tree stumps have sculptural bas-reliefs that were also produced by Phil Schuster. The decorative elements were designed by children in two community workshops. The imagery includes flowers, leaves, cattails, bees, dragonflies, butterflies, birds, raccoons, and a turtle.