LAKE FOREST – Prize-winning metal sculptor Bill Goldman has been a fixture at North Shore art shows for the past 20 years, since his retirement from the advertising agency that he and several friends founded and which he managed.
He works in a studio on the west side of U.S. 41 in Highland Park, where he bends, torches and pushes steel and stainless steel around to his design liking. Several of his structures are stationed along the highway.
Growing up in Chicago during the 40s and 50s, Goldman remembers a grade-school field trip to U.S. Steel’s South Chicago Works and being fascinated with the steel making process. This fascination continued when he began sculpting in 2000 after leaving advertising behind.
“I get into the material; I love the challenge of changing the mundane industrial elements into works of art,” Goldman said. “There is spirituality about the process that is quite existential and allows me to express essence over appearance. Many of my pieces contain both architectural and organic characteristics.”
Goldman admits fascination by fracturals and fractural geometry, which are based on the chaotic patters of nature and their often infinite reoccurrence. These visuals are seen in scattered tree limbs on a forest floor, mountaintops, coastlines, weather maps and peeling paint.
Some 35 years ago, Goldman apprenticed with John Kearney who made sculptures from scrapped steel automobile bumpers. Goldman, too, has relied on scrap metal, steel and stainless steel for his work product. Later, he rented space with sculptors Julia Rotblatt Amrany and Omri Amrany.
To escape Lincolnshire’s winter, each fall the he and his wife, Joyce, load his unsold sculpture onto a trailer and haul it to Florida’s west coast where he makes the rounds of the shows in and around Sarasota. Joyce is his top sales person.
This year, at The Glen and again at the Lincolnshire Art Fest, I spied a tall piece of Bill’s work that I thought would fit in front of our home in a spot where my wife, Lynn, had a tree removed. I had always admired his work, but never purchased it. That is until 2015.
A few days later, I met Bill for brunch at Eggsperience in Bannockburn. As our conversation meandered, I asked him why so few homes have sculpture outside, especially on the North Shore where homes are large, have a lot of outdoor space and exquisite landscaping.
He admitted that he didn’t know why there was so little outdoor sculpture.
“Maybe, folks are afraid it will be stolen,” he surmised. “But I don’t think so,” he quickly added.
I decided to ask others why there seems to be a paucity of outdoor sculpture at private homes on the North Shore.
Goldman referred me to the acclaimed sculptors Omri Amrany and his wife, Julie Rotblatt Amrany, whose studios are located at Fort Sheridan.
Artist Julie Rotblatt Amrany grew up in Highland Park and studied at the University of Colorado and the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned her MFA. She met her Israeli husband-to-be in a stone- cutting class they were both attending in Italy.
Julia said that when they first started their gallery, they showed their work in neighborhood shows during the summers and in various area art galleries.
“We just couldn’t make a living so we changed our business plan,” she said.
They switched to creating public sculpture where it is necessary to compete for commissions — and they earned nationwide success.
They also opened up their facilities to other artists who have been commissioned for such works as White Sox players Minnie Minoso, Carlton Fisk, Luis Aparicio, and Nellie Fox. Most famous for Chicagoans is the leaping Michael Jordan statue that stands in front of the United Center, collaboration between Julie and Omri. Other towering sports figures by either or both of the Amranis include Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi, Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Bobby Hull, Wilt Chamberlain, Scottie Pippen and others often with collaborators.
The granite and bronze “Dogwood Fountain” fronting Lincoln Park’s Notebaert Museum was created by Omri. Julie’s stainless steel and granite outdoor sculpture, “Spiraling Harmony, “resides in Lake Forest,” while her bronze and granite “Compassion Moves the World,” is located in a park in Highland Park.
Highland Park honors those who sacrificed their lives for America with this magnificent stone sculpture by Julia Rotblatt Amrany and Omni Amrany.
The Julia Foundation was founded to create an avenue of sculpture that would run between Lake Michigan and the Metro’s Chicago-Kenosha tracks from Fort Sheridan through Highwood to Highland Park. Famed Chicago businessman Joel N. Goldblatt signed on to head the foundation. The first of three sculptures was dedicated on Sept. 11, 2015. It is called “Solace: and was created and gifted by Julia Rotblatt Amrany to commemorate those whose lives were lost as a result of the 2001 World Trade Center tragedy.
I asked them again: “Why are there not more sculptures on North Shore lawns?”
Omri noted that owners of several private outdoor sculptures are immigrants. His son, Itamar, came into the conversation adding that in his travels in Europe he saw a number of private homes displaying outdoor sculptures.
A few Lake Forest homes do have sculptures — here’s what I found after a friend sent me to Gavin Court, telling me there were sculptures there. His reference was an understatement. The home on the northeast corner of Gavin Court and Waukegan Road has more outdoor sculpture than most Lake Forest porches have old wicker.
There were more sculptures at 1215 Gavin: