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Ginny Sykes
We talk with the local artist behind your favorite public art displays.
Monday Jan 14, 2008.     By Nola Akiwowo
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

photo: Nola Akiwow
Most of us never stop to think about the art spicing up our everyday lives. Someone had to take the time to invent the water-influenced mural between Terminals Two and Three at the O'Hare Airport. Those globes that peppered the lake this summer didn't just appear out of thin air. Artist Ginny Sykes had something to do with these lavishly grand-scale pieces of art, born out of collaborations with the Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Public Art Group and other organizations.

She's also been known to bring things down a size, mind you. The story of Pandora is opulently retold in her 2004 Spain Series, and, most recently, she presented her multi-media matrilineage project entitled Velocity. The work incorporated dance, music and visual stimulation to audiences at her studio, Studio Rose, during October's ArtWalk Ravenswood festival.

When this D.C. native is not painting at Studio Rose, you may find her next door at her husband’s restaurant, Spacca Napoli, contemplating her next piece over a cappuccino. Or, as she relays for us, you can find her out and about enjoying her other veritable forms of relaxation, Chicago-style.

If I were to come to your neighborhood, where would you insist I visit?
I would probably go to Angel Food Bakery for their hot chocolate. I love Hazel for their little boutique items. They just have a great eye over there. I like Beans and Bagels for their coffee and Bohemian atmosphere.

What's your favorite hidden gem in Chicago?
I'm not so sure it's hidden anymore, but I love the Green Mill. And I recently went to a club, which I don't think is new and I don't think it's hidden, but the darkroom. I love to dance there. I like the Dance Center of Columbia College. It's great to go there to see a performance. Then there's the bird sanctuary area of Montrose, and the harbor down on the South Side that curves around. One of my favorite places is the Douglas Dawson Gallery. It has a beautiful Japanese garden; it's just amazing.

What's the best advice about Chicago you were given?
I'm not sure if I remember getting any, honestly. But if I think about the vibe I got when I first was thinking about moving here, it was this is a great place to be, and you could do whatever you wanted to do here—kind of become who you wanted to be, make things happen. Just a sense of openness.

Who are you watching right now?
I've been paying a lot of attention out of town lately, looking at New York and getting a bit down to Miami. I'm thinking a little bit outside Chicago because I haven't really turned my attention outside in a while. And I'm always interested in what's happening in the public sphere. Like Magdalena Abakanowicz. I like to see the interventions that artists are doing in parks and different kinds of spaces that relate to my field.

What is something we should know about you that we don't?
I like to garden. I know this sounds cheesy, but I love to ride my bike along the river. And I love the sunset over the industrial skyline.