"Knockin' on Freedom's Door"
A Tribute to the Underground Railroad
When the revitalization plans for the Peoria Civic Center were being formulated in 2002, the Peoria Civic Center Authority made a commitment to commemorate the historic Pettengill Home Site. The home of Moses and Lucy Pettengill stood at the corner of Liberty and Jefferson where the Peoria Civic Center now stands.
This site is historically significant because the Pettengill’s were active in the anti-slavery movement and provided assistance to those seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad.
In December 2005, the Pettengill Home Site was inducted into the National Underground Railroad Network To Freedom Program of the National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior. It is one of eleven Illinois Underground Railroad sites in the program, and it is the only Peoria site in the Network.
To commemorate the Pettengill Home Site, internationally-recognized Peoria sculptor Preston Jackson commissioned the Peoria Civic Center Underground Railroad Monument called "Knockin' on Freedom's Door" to celebrate the place where Moses and Lucy Pettengill aided travelers on their path to freedom. The sculpture is located on the outside of the Peoria Civic Center building at the intersection of Liberty St. and Jefferson Ave.
"Sister City Friends 2"
a Sculpture by Morgan Elser
The artwork, designed by artist Morgan Elser, features iconic images of Friedrichshafen, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin and one of his famous airships, the city seal and masks from Fasnet, the pre-Lenten carnival celebrated in Southern Germany. The piece also includes well-known Peoria images, such as the Murry Baker Bridge and St. Mary's Cathedral.
The Peoria Sister City Commission, through the Friends of Friedrichshafen organization, commissioned two sculptures to celebrate the 35th aniversary of sister city relations between Peoria and Friedrichshafen, Germany. Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis presented the first sculpture to the City of Friedrichshafen in June, 2011. The second piece commemorated aniversary celebrations in Peoria, October, 2011.
by Nora Hutchinson Johnson
This sculpture is hanging from the ceiling in the Peoria Civic Center Theater lobby. It measures 34 feet high, 32 feet wide and 64 feet long.
The call for artist specified a suspended sculptural work to "fill" the 180' long by 64' high space and weigh less than 1000lbs. In addition, the sculpture was to be relavent to the community at large, who participated by large and small donations in paying for the artwork.
The Design was conceived as a sort of a 'flying carpet' with patterns painted on the wing form surfaces evocative of the American Arts and Crafts movement, a significant part of the history of the Midwest, employing numerous artisans in production of furnishings and pottery.
The final patterns, however, were taken from African fabrics, patterns which have a direct correlation to designs used universally in many cultures, and to the arts and crafts movement in Western culture. Using symbolic imagery spanning diverse cultures formed a bridge between the sculpture and the community who supported the work.
Because of the weight restraints and the need for a large scale visual statement, the armatures for the 7 elements were designed using airfoil principals, allowing for maximum surface and minimal weight. The largest elements, each 25' long, weigh only 165 lbs. each.
by Fisher Stolz, Associate Professor of Art at Bradley University
"Event" is located on the 4th floor of the Peoria Civic Center, outside of the Ballroom. The spot is the balcony "prow", overlooking the Great Hall, and is visible from the main floor, from the entire administrative wing, by patrons visiting the Lexus Club and, of course, by patrons attending the many community events, weddings, meetings and conferences on the 4th floor.
The project was made possible by a grant from the Taylor and Corrine French Fund / Fine Arts Education and the Eugene and Harriet Swagger Fund for Public Art Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois.
Words about "Event" by artist Fisher Stolz
My process for creating this sculpture for the site began by thinking about the shared ideals of the city’s vision and the functions of the Peoria Civic Center. Brainstorming words and phrases that would be appropriate included: progress, communication, growth, our centrality in the state and region, extending reach, gatherings and celebrations, among many others. One word that embodied many of the ideas was “event”. The Peoria Civic Center is of vital importance as the host of events. Each event takes work from many people with different, but related, tasks. Ideas and effort come together, bringing the event to fruition. These occasions result in learning, innovation, education, dialogue, exchange, energy and community building. The list of benefits is, of course, much longer.
I also thought about the location of the planned work and began sketching forms and thinking about materials. Sketches soon gave way to playing in three-dimensional space by making models, or maquettes, to define, then refine the idea. Early maquettes used carved Styrofoam, wire and plastic. Materials progressed to limestone and steel rod as the idea evolved. The version that resulted from the investigations has a vertical format that takes advantage of the unique aspects of that location. The planned sculpture will have a 3’ triangular footprint and will be 9’ in height.
“Event”, the sculpture, uses collective visual language and symbols with specific elements that characterize my work, such as incorporating angles and arcs together, combining stone and steel, and the use of a sphere as a focal point. I see the larger main support arcs as perspectives from different areas and the truss characteristics as individuals offering support. The primary limestone form references the coming together of perspectives into a cohesive idea. The sphere penetrated by the idea is the culmination of the event. “Event” should pique interest as seen from the ground floor level and engage individuals and groups in the open and seating area outside the upper ballrooms.
Designed by architect Ronald Bladen (1918-1988) who is considered a “father of minimalism”.
It was a joint venture between the Junior League of Peoria and the Peoria Civic Center Authority, “Sonar Tide” was commissioned in 1983. It is 51 foot 9 in long, 26 ft high, 4 ft wide and weighs 14 tons. Sculpture is located on the Circle Terrace near City Hall off Fulton Street.
"Cedric the Dragon"