Art of the Landscape: A
Retrospective on the Landscape Architect
photography by Arie S. Friedman
paintings by Yelena Klairmont
Artwork on display at:
Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society
Lake Forest, IL 60045
Phone; 847 234 LAKE
Fax: 847 234 5236
Free Opening Reception:
Sunday, February 4, 2007 (1 - 5 pm)
Artwork on display through
April 15, 2007
Gallery Viewing Hours: Tues,
Wed. Thurs. & Sundays from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Jensen's Bridge today as photographed by Arie S. Friedman
Prairie Style Landscape Master Jens Jensen:
The Local Connection
A lecture by
Dr. Arthur Miller Archivist & Librarian for Special
Collections at the Lake Forest College Library
April 15, 2007 at
at the Meyer Auditorium, Hotchkiss Hall, Lake
In honor of Jensen’s original walking tour group,
the “Prairie Club”, the gallery will be distributing guides 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.
MAP TO LAKE
FOREST-LAKE BLUFF HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Jens Jensen –
(b. Sept 13, 1860 – d. Oct. 1, 1951)
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’S COUNCIL RINGS
and Players’ Green
With a background in folk school traditions in Denmark, Jensen
recognized the need to build an appreciation in the arts within his park
settings. While Jensen’s park designs were meant to bring a sense of peace and
harmony to the visitor, he also created spaces where people could gather and
celebrate. In many of his small park designs, he included a players’ green or
council ring which he based on his studies of native American Indians
Making a connection between the performing arts and nature, Jensen’s players’
green was a slightly elevated sun-opening which served as the stage for outdoor
theatrical performances. The audience would be seated on the ground on an
Jensen’s council rings were created from stacks of flat layered limestone
(forming a circular bench), and served as a gathering or meeting place within
his natural settings. These rings were a favorite for story telling using masks,
for drumming circles and other outdoor theatrical productions which were
intended to educate people about nature and conservation.
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).
The Photographer and Author
In addition to his landscape designs, Jensen was a talented
photographer. He documented and photographed the natural areas and its flora
throughout the Midwest. Jensen’s style of photography was similar to that of
his landscape design in that he studied the light and contrast around his
subject. Preferring close-up images of plants and trees, Jensens photos
document the types of native plants, shrubs, trees, and limestone materials
he used in his landscaping.
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 at Dune Park, IN
Starry False Solomon's Seal (Smilacina
courtesy of Jensen Collection, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor
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
the Evanston Art Center and Mahoney
Park in Kenilworth. Below are others...
ROSEWOOD BEACH & PARK
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.
NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
Jensen's Shakespeare Garden can still be found on the Northwestern University
JENS JENSEN PARK
540 Roger Williams Avenue, Highland Park,
Designed by Jensen in 1924, the park sits just two
blocks from Jensen’s former residence and studio in Ravinia.
The park consists of native shrubs and trees, natural materials and a
stone council ring. The large boulder in the middle of the ring is a
memorial to Augusta (Mrs. Julius) Rosenwald, Jensen’s patron and friend.
The park was restored and dedicated to Jensen in 1980. The informative
kiosk was donated by the North Shore Garden Club and the perennial
garden was donated by the Ravinia Garden Club.
Unfortunately, like many of Jensen’s native designs, the park went feral
for several years until a group of residents from Ravinia formed the
"Friends of Jens Jensen Park". The neighborhood initiative
began to raise funds to restore the park and 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.
In September 2007, a re-dedication ceremony was held in the park.
THE ARMOUR ESTATE
(Lake Forest, IL)
(photos courtesy of the Lake Forest - Lake Bluff
Mr. and Mrs. J. Ogden Armour, heir to the
Armour meat packing fortune, hired architect Arthur Heun to design their
home in 1904-1908 at a cost of ten million dollars. Of the ten million,
two million was allocated for the Jensen designed gardens and grounds.
In 1947, the estate and grounds were purchased by the Lake Forest
Academy. Since then, the property has been parceled off. The mansion is
still owned by the Lake Forest Academy and is used primarily for
weddings and other catered events. The garden west of the home remains
as Jensen had planted it. The other garden is gone.
The north part of the property is now a Conway business development and
the remainder is owned by the Lake Forest Open Lands, which maintains
the middlefork savannah and operates the Lockhart Nature Center on the
Mellody Farm Nature Preserve, located at 350 N. Waukegan Road in Lake
Forest, IL. The Nature Center is housed in the former gatehouse of the
Armour estate. The grounds at the Nature Preserve still contain Jensen’s
pond and council ring.
405 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, IL
Designed by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw for A.G.
Becker and built in 1920, this home has grounds and gardens designed by
Jens Jensen. The home has three fireplaces, six bedrooms, seven 1/2
bathrooms, a seven car garage and grounds containing a separate coach
house, greenhouse, gazebo, tennis courts, hot tub and pool. The home
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
After falling into disrepair, the estate and grounds were purchased by
insurance executive Michael Segal several years ago. The gardens were
fully restored 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
In June 2004, Segal was convicted of fraud, racketeering and
embezzlement, sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $30
million for looting a trust account at his Near North Insurance
Brokerage. The U.S. government took control of the property and it was
auctioned off in September 2006 to Orren Pickell Designers & Builders of
Lake Forest, IL for $17.6 million. (The builder had signed a letter of
intent with the City of Highland Park to purchase the property in
February 2006 with the intension of building multiple homes on the
site.) The builder has stated that it will preserve 66% of the 17-acre
lakefront property and give the public access to those areas of the
property twice a week.
The Pioneer Press Publication reported on
July 12, 2007 that the historic estate was voted and unanimously
accepted by the Highland Park City Council as a historic landmark on
June 25, 2007 as recommended by the Highland Park Historic Preservation
McNALLY ESTATE - Landsdowne
(Lake Bluff, IL)
A mansion built by Benjamin Marshall in 1911 for Rand McNally
(the map emperor) is for sale. The 21 acre lakefront property
has an asking price of $25 million and contains a 14,000 sq. ft. home with
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
stands of a 3 acre parcel and has not yet been landmarked.
The Jensen grounds are also not landmarked and could be subdivided, the Jensen grounds bulldozed.
UPDATE! Lansdowne in Lake
Bluff -- the largest private estate on the North Shore
-- was sold to Orren Pickell Designers & Builders in
July 2007. The developer plans to build
seven lots on the property ranging from 1.5 acres to 3.5
14,500-square-foot mansion, built for the head of Rand
McNally, and designed by Benjamin Marshall remains for
sale. The house, reminiscent of the
grand era in which it was built, is the last private
estate available from the acclaimed architect.
THE MINES-KELLEY-MURPHY ESTATE
136 Green Bay Road, Lake Bluff, IL
(Lake Bluff, IL)
This historic home was originally located on 130 acres (before it
was subdivided). In the late 1800's, the property was owned by Mr.
John Mines, an immigrant farmer from Ireland. He sold the estate to
rail magnate William V. Kelley. Kelley invested additional funds to
form a one-and-a-half-acre man-made lake on the estate's front
property, complementing an existing three-acre lake on the back edge
of the estate and hired architect Howard van doren Shaw to build the
Italian villa-style Manor House and Gatehouse. The property contains
landscape designs by Jens Jensen, including a council ring, two
limestone bridges and two ponds. The Kelley estate was named
Stonebridge in honor of Jensen’s bridge over the lake.
When Kelley died in the early 1930’s, Walter Murphy, an ingenious
railroad mechanic who made a fortune as an inventor and manufacturer
of railway equipment, purchased Stonebridge. Upon Murphy's passing
in 1942, the estate was willed to Northwestern University.
Two years later, the Servite order of the Catholic Church purchased
the estate from Northwestern University and by 1945 turned it into
their major seminary. The Servites invested two million dollars in
the estate and built an addition in 1955 with a kitchen, dining
room, classrooms, bedroom and recreational facilities and a chapel.
In the late 1960s, Stonebridge was purchased by Harrison Conference
Services. In the 1970’s, Harrison opened the property as
the Midwest's first full-time conference center. 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
Recently, the Conference Center and a 32-acre parcel of the property
was purchased by Stonebridge Lake Bluff, LLC. The proposed Planned
Residential Development (PRD) consists of a mix of single-family
homes, duplexes, and condominium residences. On June 10, 2005, the
Lake Bluff Village Board approved an ordinance designating the Coach
House, Manor House, and certain landscaped areas 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.
Do you have historical photographs or
blueprints of Jensen's
with your information.
Private Estate Gardens in Highland Park, IL
The Artist's Connection . . .
Jensen, a self-taught photographer whose images focused on close-ups,
details and special features of native plants and the surrounding habitat,
believed that "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." Jensen had many friends who were artists that
lived near his home and studio in Ravinia (a former artists' colony).
Influenced by their work, Jensen commissioned sculptures by local artists
and placed them in his park designs, including Humboldt Park, the Lincoln
Memorial Garden, and the Shakespeare Garden (on the campus of Northwestern
Jensen's relationship to the land is similar to that of his photography.
Incorporating light, dark and open areas for dramatic effect, Jensen was
known for his "long view" perspective. Jensen would place the subject (such
as the sculpture or home) at the end of a long, open space, placing trees
and shrubs as the "frame" (forming side borders), leaving just a narrow
opening when viewed from a distance. Also by using curved pathways and
angles, Jensen was able to create unique spatial qualities and contrasts in
lighting. He planted trees, shrubs and prairie plants in specific areas of
light and dark patterns to create an illusion of space. These open spaces or
sun spots surrounded by deep forested dark areas, left the impression that
the landscape continued beyond the immediate range of vision, or possibly
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
(There are some additional similarities between Arie Friedman and Jensen.
Jensen also served in the military - the German army in Berlin where he was a
member of the Imperial Guard. Jensen completed his duty in 1884 and
moved from Denmark to the United States. Jensen was also a
|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
Below are images of the exhibition held at Anatomically
Correct Gallery, 1946 First St, Highland Park, IL.
|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 played during the
Emma Kowalenko recites her poetry that accompanied 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. 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: