Thursday, September 26, 2013

Restoration


Restoration, 2007
Milton Mizenburg, Jr.
Williams-Davis Park
4101 South Lake Park Avenue

            Restoration is the first bronze sculpture by artist and activist Milton Mizenburg, Jr., who has been instrumental in bringing improvements to the Oakland community on the south side of Chicago. Mizenburg, a former forklift operator, moved to the neighborhood in 1988 with his wife Gloria and, initially, focused his energy on renovating his home and studio. Already experienced with crafting metal jewelry, Mizenburg began carving wooden sculptures and eventually adopted the chainsaw as his preferred tool. After improving his own home, the self-taught artist realized he could also improve some of the vacant lots near his house.  In 1996 he began using his chainsaw to craft tree stumps into abstract sculptures and dubbed the outdoor display the “Oakland Museum of Contemporary Art. Mizenburg has also inspired neighbors, such as Frank Duncan, to pursue their own dreams. Many of Mizenburg’s outdoor sculptures are displayed next to poems written by Duncan, a Vietnam veteran.
            In the late 1990s, the Chicago Housing Authority began work on their Plan for Transformation, which included razing the nearby deteriorating Lake Park Homes, a public housing project. The redesigned site includes a mixed-income community called “Lake Park Crescent” and the park where Mizenburg’s bronze work is located.

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