Art of the Landscape: A
Retrospective on the Landscape Architect
In tribute to landscape designer Jens Jensen (b. Sept 13, 1860 – d. Oct. 1, 1951) the exhibition features
photography by Arie S. Friedman
paintings by Yelena Klairmont
poetry by Emma Kowalenko
and historical documentation by Elliott
Miller including prints of photographs taken by Jens Jensen himself
Artwork on display at:
Anatomically Correct Gallery,
1946 First Street, Highland Park, IL
Artwork on display through
November 12, 2006
Gallery Viewing Hours: Saturdays noon - 5 pm & by appt
CLICK HERE FOR
LINK TO DRUMMING WORKSHOP
In honor of Jensen’s original walking tour
group, the “Prairie Club”, the gallery will be distributing
to visitors who wish to conduct their own series of "Saturday
Afternoon Walking Trips," to the Jensen areas in Highland Park, Ravinia
and Lake Forest.
The Gallery also offers for sale handmade
prairie soaps and prairie seed packets (plant your own prairie!)
Jensen's Bridge today by Arie S. Friedman
Jens Jensen – During the late
nineteenth century, Chicago and the surrounding areas developed quickly.
Skyscrapers, the city’s elevated railway system, improved roads, and a new
drainage system helped to rank Chicago as an important city.
However, a Danish immigrant, Jens Jensen realized that the native landscape was
quickly disappearing and set out to preserve it. It wasn't long
before Jensen’s prairie style of landscape architecture attracted attention.
North Shore residents from Lake Forest, Highland Park and nearby Ravinia and in
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin commissioned Jensen to create his "American Garden" on
their private estates (among them the Armours, Rosenwalds, Florsheims, Ryersons,
Beckers and Fords). He founded the Friends of Our Native Landscape,
an organization that was instrumental in preserving important natural areas
throughout the Midwest. He was a driving force in establishing the
Illinois State Parks system and the Cook County Forest Preserve District, the
Illinois state park system, the Indiana Dunes State Park and National Lakeshore.
For Chicago’s West Park System, he created Columbus Park on the western edge of
Chicago, and redesigned three other large west-side parks (Humboldt, Garfield,
and Douglas) as well as 15 small ones. He also designed parks in smaller cities
– among them Racine and Madison, Wisconsin; Dubuque, Iowa; and Springfield,
A photograph of Rosewood Bridge taken by Jensen, so named for the Rosewood
estate (now known as Rosewood Park) located at the east end of Roger Williams
Avenue in Highland Park, IL - circa 1914.
Jensen also saw a connection between the performing arts and nature. In many of his small park designs, he included a "players’ green or council ring." The
green was a slightly elevated sun-opening, which served as the stage for outdoor
theatrical performances with the audience seated on the ground on an adjacent
meadow. Jensen promoted the use of masks, drumming circles and other outdoor
theatrical productions to educate people about nature and conservation. Jensen’s
council rings, based on his observations of local Indian tribes, were made from
layered stones, and served as a gathering or meeting place within his natural
In this exhibit, you will also see paintings by Yelena Klairmont
of Caldwell's Pond - Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL. Landscape
architect Alfred Caldwell was a local Chicago-area practitioner and a protégé of
legendary Chicago landscape architect Jens Jensen. Between 1924 and 1929,
Caldwell assisted Jensen on some of his most important projects. Caldwell
described his mentor as “the great symbol of my life.” Caldwell designed several park projects,
including the Lily Pool in Lincoln Park in the late 1930s. This pond
serves as an important resting point for several species of migratory birds.
Jensen & Caldwell
Following his retirement at age 75, Jensen purchased land in Door County,
Wisconsin and achieved his longtime dream of establishing "The Clearing" whose
mission is "to provide diverse educational experiences in the folk school
tradition, in a setting of quiet forests, meadows and water. The Clearing is a
place where adults who share an interest in nature, arts or humanities can
learn, reflect and wonder... Jensen saw The Clearing as a place where city
people could renew their contact with the 'soil' as a basis for life values.
Today, many people come to The Clearing for this same sense of renewal and to be
able to better manage the stresses and strains of everyday life in a complex and
Jensen at the Cliff House in The Clearing, WI.
The Jensen family at the beach in Door County, WI
Jensen as a young man and later contemplating at his
Council Ring on his property in Ravinia, IL (Dean Avenue).
In addition to his landscape art, Jensen was a talented photographer.
He documented and photographed the natural areas and its flora throughout the
Midwest. Jensen also authored "Siftings", a sort of
memoir where he shares his memories of "wandering in many lands".
A photo taken by Jensen in 1913
Jensen's book Siftings
Series: American Land Classics
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Where are Jensen's landscapes today?
Jensen's prairie style landscapes were commissioned by homeowners
along Chicago's North Shore between 1900 and 1935, but only a portion
have been identified. “Jensen landscapes are worth their
weight in gold,” says Arthur Miller, from Lake Forest College, "Of the
roughly 40 known Jensen commissions in Lake Forest alone, just over half
have been pinpointed. The rest, if they exist, are at risk of
destruction by uninformed property owners." In
the late 1980s, Two Gables - a mansion on Green Bay Road owned by
television star "Mr. T" - caused a nationally-publicized uproar when he
destroyed Jensen designed gardens and cut down more than 100 trees on
the grounds, reportedly because they bothered his allergies. The current
owners have expressed long-range plans to restore the grounds to the
Preservation of the actual places created by Jensen is as important
as preserving the legacy of his ideas,” writes Robert E. Grese, author
of Jens Jensen: Maker of Natural Parks and Gardens, “Now,
more than ever, urban as well as suburban and rural people need to feel
reconnected to the natural landscape and its cycles.”
Many Jensen landscapes have survived on the North Shore, including
ones at Northwestern University, the Evanston Art Center (maintained by
the Evanston Garden Club) and Mahoney
Park in Kenilworth and the entrance drive of the former William V. Kelly
Estate, now the Harrison Conference Center in Lake Bluff.
Below are others...
Jens Jensen landscaped the Rosenwald estate, now known as Rosewood
Park. It was purchased by the Highland Park Park
District from the Rosenwald family in two parts, the first in 1928 the
second in 1945.
The reflecting pond at Upper Rosewood is what remains of his
Also site of Jensen's famous stone bridge.
The grounds of Moraine Park on Hotel Moraine
2501 Sheridan Road, Sheridan
Rd. and Moraine Rd.
This was designed by Marshall
Johnson (Jensen's son-in-law)
Jensen's Shakespeare Garden on the Northwestern University
Jens Jensen Park is
located at 540
Roger Williams Avenue, Roger Williams Avenue and St. Johns Avenue in
Ravinia (across from the train station). The Park was
created by Jensen in 1924, however it was not maintained over the years.
Jensen had his studio two blocks from the park. The park
contains native shrubs and trees, natural materials and a stone council
ring. The large boulder in the middle of the ring holds a
memorial to August (Mrs. Julius) Rosenwald, Jensen's patron and friend.
The organization "Friends of Jens Jensen
Park" began as a neighborhood initiative to raise funds to
restore the park. In June 2006, The Friends of Jens
Jensen Park and the Park District of Highland Park held a
groundbreaking ceremony for the restoration of the Jens
Jensen Park. For more information please
call the Friends of Jens Jensen Park at 847.266.9950.
Private Estate Gardens in Highland Park, IL
A GROWING TREND? . . .
What will Happen to the Becker-Segal Estate
405 Sheridan Road,
Highland Park, IL
Built in 1920, this home has three fireplaces, six bedrooms, seven
& 1/2 bathrooms, a seven car garage (with
separate coach house, greenhouse, gazebo, tennis courts, hot tub and pool) has an asking
price of $19,600,000. The home was designed by
architect Howard Van Doren Shaw for A.G. Becker and sits on
17-acres of beach front property facing Lake Michigan.
Inside the home, floor to ceiling
windows provide views of 500 feet of the private beach.
The grounds were originally designed by landscape architect Jens Jensen
for the Becker family. The
gardens have been fully restored over the past decade and rank as
one of the best early-20th century landscapes in the Chicago area.
The property is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places
thanks to a nomination by Susan Benjamin of Benjamin Historic
The U.S. government took control of the mansion after its owner
- insurance executive Michael Segal - was convicted in June 2004.
Orren Pickell Designers & Builders was the highest bidder for the
property in mid-September 2006. The
developer signed a letter of intent to purchase the property in
February 2006 with the intension of building multiple homes on the
What will Happen to
Lansdowne and Grounds?
A mansion built by Benjamin Marshall in 1911
for Rand McNally (yes, the map emperor) on 21 Acres of lakefront
property in Lake Bluff, IL is for sale for $25 million.
The 14,000 sq. ft. home is a Georgian and includes 11 bedrooms, 9.5
bathrooms, a coach house, tennis courts, a pool, a polo field,
formal gardens and a winding drive that crosses two limestone
bridges and grounds designed by landscape architect Jens Jensen.
The home will likely be preserved on its own 3 acre parcel, but the
property could be subdivided and the Jensen grounds bulldozed.
What will Happen to the The Harrison House and Grounds?
136 Green Bay Road, Lake Bluff, IL
Another Howard Van Doren Shaw
mansion, with landscaping by Jens Jensen which includes a council
ring, two limestone bridges and two ponds can be found at 136 Green Bay Road (now known as
the Harrison Conference Center). The 32 acre
parcel is being considered for development by Stonebridge Lake
Bluff, LLC. The proposed Planned Residential Development (PRD)
consists of a mix of single-family homes, duplexes, and condominium
residences. The Harrison Conference Center provides
10,500 square feet of meeting space, 83 guest rooms, dining
accommodations, and fitness facilities; such as pools, tennis and
basketball courts, and a driving range. On June 10, 2005 the
Village Board approved an ordinance designating the Coach House,
Manor House, and certain landscape as local historic landmarks. On
October 11, 2005, the Village Board approved preliminary plans for
the proposed planned residential development, which was submitted by
Stonebridge Lake Bluff, LLC.
Many have suggested that the Jensen landscapes described above be
landmarked and at least one reserved for use as a Jensen interpretive
center, a school for landscape design and grounds left as a park in
tribute to Jensen's legacy. What do you think?
Email us with your comments:
Do you have historical photographs of Jensen's
landscaped designs? We are interested in
collecting as many photos as possible for publication in a book on
Jensen landscapes on the North Shore. Please email
with your information.
Arie S. Friedman
– Arie Friedman was born in Central Illinois and has lived almost his
entire life on the western shore of Lake Michigan. As the descendant of over 100
years of Midwesterners and Chicagoans, Arie uses photography to explore an ever
deepening personal relationship with region in which his family continues to
make its home. His professional background is anything but artistic in
nature. Graduating with a biology degree from the University of Chicago in 1987,
he spent the next seven years flying helicopters as a United States Naval
Aviator, including two overseas deployments during the first Gulf War. In 1994,
Arie left the Navy to enter the University of Illinois College of Medicine which
led to his current career as a pediatrician in Lincolnshire, Illinois. Over the
last few years, he has revived a youthful interest in photography and believes
that his technical background readily lends itself to the rapidly changing field
of digital photography. Arie’s current projects focus on the subtle
and unique beauty of the trees, prairies, and people of the Central and Upper
Midwest. Having grown up within blocks of the original “Clearing”, Arie has
found that the landscapes and writings of Jens Jensen in particular provide
endless artistic inspirations. It is Arie’s expectation that he will spend the
foreseeable future further exploring Jens Jensen’s immense and invaluable
|Pine Cone Abstract by Arie S.
||Pine Bark #1
by Arie S. Friedman
||Sand-Milkweed by Arie S. Friedman
|Spruce Bark by Arie S. Friedman
by Arie S. Friedman
||Pine Bark #2 by Arie S. Friedman
Lyonia-ligustrina by Arie S. Friedman
Lily Pad by Arie S. Friedman
Solitary Columbine by Arie S. Friedman
Yelena Klairmont – Yelena began her
career as an instinctive artist executing public murals and later sought formal
training at the American Academy of Art. She also studied at the University of
Toronto and DePaul University. Her artwork has been exhibited at College of Lake
County, 4Art Gallery, Chicago Art Open, Illinois State Gallery, Gallery 60035,
Highland Park, IL, the Highland Park Public Library. Corporate collections
include Harris Bank, Highland Park, IL and Highland Park Bank and Trust,
Highland Park, IL and Municipal Collections: City of Highland Park, Highland
Park, IL. Her landscapes reflect nature’s variety in a perspective which
is close and intimate as a reminder of the surpassing value of each blade of
grass, and the unimaginable treasure of the whole. Three years ago, she
undertook a project of preserving in oil paint one of the Midwest's most
beautiful yet fragile resources- ravines and bluffs of the North Shore. Inspired
by the renowned Chicago landscape architect Jens Jensen’s effort to promote
nature and his “breathing spaces” concept in an over-urbanized society; her
works depict many of Jensen’s architectural structures incorporated in his
landscape designs of ravines, parks, and forest preserves. This series of
paintings aim to capture the continuously evolving cycle of nature, a cycle that
with increased public support for preservation will never have to end. Yelena is
a 15-year resident of Highland Park.
Prints are available of all Yelena's paintings
|Jensen's Bridge, Oil on Canvas, 60
(Print Only Available)
|Jensen's Bridge #2, Oil on Canvas,
48 x 36"
|Jensen's Walk, Oil on Canvas, 60 x
Jensen's Council Ring, Oil on Canvas, 60 x 36"
| Yellow Light, Oil on Canvas,
48 x 36"
Red Fall, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 36"
|Dean Ave Ravine in Fall,
Oil on Canvas, 36 x 24"
(Print Only Available)
|Ravinia Council Ring
Oil on Canvas,
36 x 24"
Oil on Canvas,
4' x 6'
Caldwell Pond Abstract #2
on Canvas, 36 x 60"
Caldwell Pond Abstract #1
on Canvas, 36 x 48"
Caldwell Pond , Lincoln Park Zoo
Oil on Canvas, 22 x 28"
Caldwell Pond , Lincoln Park Zoo
Oil on Canvas, 48 x 36"
(Print Only Available)
Caldwell Pond #5
on Canvas, 30 x 24"
Illinois Prairie Flowers, 5 panels
Oil on Canvas
36 x 12" each
Preservationist Elliott Miller –
Elliott has a keen interest in local history, a background in historical
writing, archival methodology, and museum exhibition development. He received a
Bachelor of Arts degree (cum laude) in Anthropology from American University,
Washington, D.C. , and a Master of Arts degree in Humanities with a specialty in
archeology from the University of Chicago, and has studied Archival Methodology
at the Library of Congress and interned in the Dept. of Ethnology at the
University of Chicago. Elliott has 20 year career in technical writing, has been
a consultant developer of archeology and ethnology exhibits at the Spertus
Museum in Chicago and has written journal articles and exhibit catalogs. Elliott
has served as a Member and past Chair of the Highland Park Historic Preservation
Commission, a past Board Member and newsletter editor of The Friends of Jens
Jensen, has conducted programs that celebrated the history of Highland Park for
Historic Preservation Month and developed exhibits concerning Ravinia such as
the history of Ravinia School for the school’s centennial in 1997 and the
history of the Ravinia community for the centennial of Ravinia’s annexation to
Highland Park in 1999. He also presented “Ravinia the Artists Colony,” for the
Highland Park Public Library in 2001 and has worked with the Ravinia
Neighborhood Association. In the course of his research, he has located
and interviewed numerous individuals who lived in Ravinia in the early 1900's
and collected photographs, memoirs, and other memorabilia of old Ravinia.
He has also conducted documentary research at local public and university
libraries and museums and is familiar with the collections of Highland
Park-related materials throughout the Chicago area.
Emma A. Kowalenko - Poetic
Magic of Landscapes - Emma is one of the
founding members and currently serves as the marketing chair of EAST ON
CENTRAL – A Journal of Art and Letters, along with its Editor-in-Chief
Judith M.K. Tepfer, Judith Bernstein, Sam Bernstein, Sumner Garte, Paul Max
Rubenstein and Sandra K. Strauss. Now in its fourth year of publication, the
Journal combines the concept of blending the literary and visual arts and
includes prose, poetry, visual arts and thematic pieces. Also, the participants
conduct readings throughout the Highland Park community and manage programs
throughout the year to encourage other artists and writers. Their programs and
publications are supported by retail sales, and grants from the City of Highland
Park’s Cultural Commission, the Illinois Arts Council, and many generous private
and business donors. This year’s theme for the publication is “Highland Park in
Touch with Nature.” Inspired by Yelena Klairmont's Jensen
themed paintings, in 2005, Emma created a series of poems under her pen name
Emma Alexandra. Her poems were included with Yelena’s paintings in an exhibition
at ARC Gallery in Chicago. Emma has a M.A. in history from
Northeastern Illinois University and with her husband Anthony, owns and operates
Kowalenko & Bilotti, Inc. (K&B) which provides management, training, information
technology, transportation planning, environmental, research, and technical
support services to a variety of public and private sector clients. Emma and her
family live in Highland Park.
|L to R - Arie S. Friedman, Emma Kowalenko,
Highland Park's Mayor Belsky,
and Yelena Klairmont at the opening reception Sept. 16, 2006.
Michael Lieber and his celtic/bluegrass ensemble play during the
Emma Kowalenko recites her poetry that accompanies Yelena
Special Thanks to Flavors by Northshore Cookery in Highland Park for
donating appetizers for the opening reception.
Lake Shore Diversions
BY HARRIET MCCULLOUGH
ART OF THE LANDSCAPE
Jens Jensen tribute and exhibit,
opening reception 7 to 10 p.m. Sept. 16 at Anatomically Correct
Gallery, 1946 First St., Highland Park. Free. Exhibit viewing
hours are noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays or by appointment through
Red. Yellow. Purple. Orange. All the
brilliant colors of autumn unite several North Shore artists and
the famous, but long dead, landscape architect Jens Jensen.
Residents can view some treasured Jensen landscapes in various
media and tour some that have survived the many changes on the
North Shore over the last century.
The Art of the Landscape, a
retrospective on landscape architect Jens Jensen, begins with a
free reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Anatomically
Correct Gallery, 1946 First St., Highland Park.
Photographs by Jensen will be
surrounded by work of North Shore residents such as photographs
by Arie S. Friedman, paintings by Yelena Klairmont and
historical documentation on Jensen by preservationist Elliott
The reception also will feature a
poetry reading by Highland Park resident Emma Kowalenko, who has
composed poems based on Klairmont's paintings of Jensen
landscapes. In honor of the Prairie Club, a walking tour group
that Jensen lead, the gallery will distribute maps to visitors
who wish to conduct their own visits to the Jensen areas in
Highland Park and Ravinia.
The Rosewood Bridge has universal
appeal and appears in photographs by Friedman, paintings by
Klairmont and photographs by Jensen himself by preservationist
Miller. This bridge is located in Rosewood Park at the east end
of Roger Williams Avenue in Highland Park.
"Jensen realized that the native
landscape was quickly disappearing and set out to preserve it,"
she said. "He was way ahead of his time as a preservationist."
Jensen was a driving force in
establishing the Illinois state parks system, the Cook County
Forest Preserve District, the Indiana Dunes State Park and the
Inspiration to many
Artist Klairmont's art is inspired by
Jensen's work and words. Quoting from a Jensen book, "Siftings,"
she acknowledged his words expressed her perspective so well
that she quoted him:
"Arts must be a guide, a leader in the
evolution of mankind towards a higher spiritual goal, none of
the arts is more able to do this than that of the garden. It is
a living expression of peace and happiness and therefore a great
influence in the forming of a people."
Jensen determined that if people could
not get to nature, he would bring it to them, she said.
Jensen, a Danish immigrant and
landscape architect, set out to preserve the native landscape on
the North Shore during the early 20th century. North Shore
residents from Lake Forest, Highland Park and Ravinia
commissioned Jensen to create his American Garden on their
Julia S. Bachrach. The City in a Garden: A Photographic History of Chicago
Parks. University of Chicago Press, 2001.
Charles A. Birnbaum. Pioneers of American Landscape Architecture.
Leonard K. Eaton. Landscape Artist in America: The Life and Work of Jens
Jensen. University of Chicago Press, 1964.
Robert E. Grese. Jens Jensen: Maker of Natural Parks and Gardens. The
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.
Wilhelm Miller, Introduction by Chrisopher Vernon. The Prairie Spirit of
Landscape Gardening. University of Massachusetts Press, 2002.
Founded in 1991, Anatomically Correct is a
not-for-profit organization dedicated to showcasing works by artists in
alternative spaces in a
combined effort to educate, diversify, and promote community awareness of the visual and
All artwork available for purchase.
For more information, please contact: