New artist adds flair to the Sculpture in the Park exhibit in St. Charles

  • "Taking Flight" by Michael Young, a Chicago sculptor, is on display in Mount St. Mary Park, St. Charles.

    "Taking Flight" by Michael Young, a Chicago sculptor, is on display in Mount St. Mary Park, St. Charles. Courtesy of Dave Heun

Posted6/10/2022 6:00 AM

Michael Young's lifelong interest in nature, particularly wind and flight, is a plus for visitors of the Sculpture in the Park exhibition this summer at Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles.

Young, a sculptor with a studio in Chicago's Old Town for the past 20 years, is a first-time participant in the St. Charles program and his "Taking Flight" stainless steel sculpture is an eye-catcher.


It qualifies as my favorite sculpture this year and marks about four of five years in which I make a note of my favorites at Mount St. Mary as the exhibit opens to the public.

It might be more accurate to say it is "one of my favorites," as it is always hard not to highly rate the lifelike sculptures of the late Seward Johnson, who doesn't disappoint again this year. His bronze sculpture "Search," a woman on a bench hunting through her purse, provides extraordinary detail -- especially in the purse -- that once again amazes onlookers.

St. Charles Park District opened the 17th annual exhibit display last month and will keep the 15 new sculptures on-site through September.

"I had some artist friends tell me about the St. Charles program, so this is my first time there," said Young, who adds that he has been "making art" since 1986. "It is really a nice park there."

Because of his interest in birds and flight, the "Taking Flight" sculpture essentially takes that concept into a new shape.

"It's an abstract presentation of a flock of birds taking off," he said. "All of those shapes are hollow and cut out of stainless steel and then welded all the way around, and all of the welding has to be ground down."

by signing up you agree to our terms of service

Depending on what else he is working on, he noted that a sculpture like "Taking Flight" would generally take about three months.

"It gets time-consuming," Young said.

The park has about 18 concrete pads used for each year's temporary sculptures for the program, and program director Sabrina Hunley said the park district accepts 15 or 16 each year. The sculptures that the park district may eventually keep are on display at various parks throughout the city.

"We have a committee of 10 to 12 people who meet in March to pick sculptures from the submitted entries, considering safety and what the community might like," Hunley said.

On occasion, the committee picks a sculpture, but the sculptor backs out because they either sold the piece or were already accepted in another show, Hunley said. "Then we just back to our list and pick another one," she added.

Seward Johnson's "Search," a woman on a bench hunting through her purse, is part of the Sculpture in the Park exhibit in Mount St. Mary Park, St. Charles.
Seward Johnson's "Search," a woman on a bench hunting through her purse, is part of the Sculpture in the Park exhibit in Mount St. Mary Park, St. Charles. - Courtesy of Dave Heun

The Sculpture in the Park program was primarily created to attract more visitors to the park. But that's an element the park district has no way of measuring for success.

"That is the million-dollar question," Hunley said of the program's power in luring visitors. "We have talked about it before, and we look at website traffic and such, but we don't have any way to really gauge how many people come out for the sculptures."

The old-fashioned eyeball process tells me Sculpture in the Park has been a winner for a long time. Mount St. Mary Park is a nice city park to begin with, and the sculptures along the walking trail have added more interest.

And, in some cases, they likely have allowed the park district to feel comfortable saying the visitor counts are "Taking Flight."

Don't let down guard

This sounds simple, but most of us don't do it: Stay alert and don't get lazy when protecting your digital assets, specifically personal information or payment credentials.

In reporting on data protection technology the past decade for PaymentsSource, it was easy to see that Verizon's annual data breach report was highly regarded among those in the protection field.

This year's report brought up familiar woes. Wondering why supply chains are such a problem these days? Among various factors, supply chain breaches are a significant concern. Supply chain weaknesses led to 62 percent of system intrusion incidents in the past year.

Mostly, for the purpose of this column and possibly the small business owners who may see it, it is important to remind everyone that the human element remains a big problem, as the report notes that 82 percent of breaches involved stolen credentials, phishing, misuse or simple errors.

"Just because you are a small business doesn't mean you are not a target," said Julie Conroy, head of risk insights and advisory for Boston-based Aite-Novarica consulting firm. "In many cases, it means you are a bigger target."

The math on that is pretty simple. Fraudsters using automated bots for logins or messaging can attack thousands of businesses and individuals in seconds.

"If you have remote access on your system, reset the password," said Conroy, one of my main sources on the fraud topic. "Don't leave it at the default password, as that is one of the things that always pops up in the breach report. People just don't reset the password."

Conroy also advises applying the network patches that providers issue.

"It's the other real simple thing that always shows up in the report," she added. "Small businesses can be way behind in updating things like anti-virus."

This advice is simple, but it takes some effort from individuals. "Don't use the same password," Conroy warns. "If one site is hacked, criminals will use a bot to see where else the password works."

Just pitch a tent

If I just pitched a tent near West Main Street and Randall Road in St. Charles, I could be the literal happy camper because three places that rate highly on my quick-serve dining checklist are nearby. It would cut down on using gas to drive to these places.

For one, Beef Shack officials had their groundbreaking event last week to start building the new home for the wonderful Cheezy Beef sandwiches at 2015 W. Main St., at the southeast corner of Main and Randall.

Years ago, this corner was the home of Way's Standard gas station and then a Title company.

And the newest entry to this tasty section of town is Chum's Shrimp Shack, operating out of the former Beef Shack spot at 2115 W. Main St. I've talked about the shrimp sandwiches and other delights at this spot.

And at 1825 W. Main St., we have Just Kabobs, a Greek restaurant with good food and generous portions. The last time I took home a meal from Just Kabobs, it lasted me a few days.

Of course, there's a McDonald's in the mix in this area as well, and this longtime fast-food giant has always had a few items that lured me in on occasion.

Exactly where my tent should go, I'm not sure about that yet.

Take in some art

Don't forget, the Fox Valley Arts Ramble takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 11, with various exhibits and events from Elgin to Aurora.

A map and information about all of the great art to see are available on the website.

Get the films rolling

All of the hoopla and then staggering box office numbers for the new "Top Gun" movie with Tom Cruise signaled a strong start of the summer season for moviegoers -- and the theaters that want to lure big numbers to make up for the lost time of the past two years.

That sort of thing makes it harder to continue to drive by the empty Randall 15 movie theater complex in Batavia.

It seems as if the new owners, Emagine Entertainment, are missing an opportunity here. But there have been work trucks on-site, so it's just a matter of time.

Earlier this year, when Emagine signed a lease for the former Goodrich Theaters site, company officials hoped to open the theater "some time" this year.

Maybe we'll be back to Randall 15 before or during the holiday movie season?

Go to comments: 0 posted
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.