Frank Lloyd Wright Trust Presents Architect Mark Sexton, ARCHITECT/ARTIST CREATIVE COLLABORATIONS Report – From Artist to Architect to Public Delight

Architect Mark Sexton Photo by S.V.Burke

Chicago Public Art and Buildings Are the Focus of THE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT TRUST Lecture Featuring Mark Sexton

Until the development of Millennium Park, Chicago public art was a matter of pick and choose.  Maybe you are inspired by the The Bowman and The Spearman, Ivan Meštrović’s magnificent guardians to the entrance to Congress Parkway.  Perhaps Picasso’s accessible portrait in steel in the Daily Plaza sparks your ximagination.

Architect/Artist Creative Collaborations

Two pieces (among the many) in Millennium Park strike everyone’s imagination—Cloud Gate (aka the bean) by Anish Kapoor and Crown Fountain, conceived by Catalonian artist Jaume Plensa and executed under the direction of Chicago architect Mark Sexton and his firm Krueck + Sexton.

So how do you leap from the scribbles of visionary artist Plensa to the joyful, accessible Crown Fountain?  It takes a village of collaborators.

Mark Sexton with President and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, Celese Adams, and John Fafkin, Chairman of the Board, Frank Lloyd Wright Trust. Photo by S.V. Burke

Our evening with Mark Sexton at the gothic limestone and oak University Club began with a cordial reception where guests mingled with Frank Lloyd Wright Trust volunteers and members.  Guests enthused about the quality of the lecture series presented annually by the Trust, always highlighting the influence of innovation and quality of architecture in our lives.

Stan Hill, guest, with reviewer Ann Boland Photo by S.V.Burke
Three FLW fans - from left - Joclyn Oats, Assoc Prof Architecture and Interior Design, Columbia College, Janet Tebbenkamp, Architect, Deborah Rogers, Interior Designer. Photo by S.V.Burke

Sexton’s talk covered three important pieces of their work:  Crown Fountain, Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Literature and the FBI South Florida Headquarters, so successful architecturally and functionally that Krueck + Sexton are now working on Federal buildings around the world.  Each project was conceived and executed in a previously unproven manner.  Here, we focus only on the Crown Fountain.

Concept sketch by Jaume Placa and Crown Fountain completed Photo Credit Steve Hall Hedrich Blessing

Barcelona comes to Chicago

Once you know that an artist from Barcelona, Jaume Plensa, conceived the fountain, the insouciant people who spout water on their visitors makes sense.  In Barcelona and Catalonia, you are immersed in the joy of art and architecture, notably Antoni Gaudí.  Sexton and Krueck took Plensa’s sketch and created joy in the Park.  Nothing like the Crown Fountain existed before.  Every element, from the grid structure, to the optically pure glass bricks curved at the top to make the water course down the sides rather than splash out, to the revolutionary (at that time) digital imaging and the hundreds of video captures of volunteers, was sourced from the collaborative minds of Jaume Plensa, the architects, the engineers, the steel workers, the glass fabricators, the electricians, the videographers, and now the maintenance engineers.  And all we need do is visit this wonder and see children and adults splashing and laughing and loving the water spouts to realize how great public art inspires all who embrace it.

Mark Sexton was warm and humble.  He and his business partner are graduates of IIT and students of Mies van der Rohe.  Though their success now takes their Chicago roots around the world, we hope that another grand idea will draw them again to bring inspiration and joy to Chicago.

Ann Boland
Portrait by Paul Sierra

Reviewer Ann Boland is committed to Chicago theater. Involved in the audience since the early 80’s, she’s witnessed firsthand the rise of our theater scene, our exceptional local talent, and the vigor of each new generation.  Ann handles public relations for authors and works on programs to help seniors with neurological movement disorders.  Please visit her website for more information.  


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