Chicago is a city of firsts. From constructing the inaugural skyscraper in 1885 to welcoming the first Ferris Wheel at the World’s Columbian Exposition, it now sets the stage for the country’s first-ever NASCAR Cup Series street race. This highly anticipated spectacle promises more than just a 12-turn, 2.2-mile street race; it offers a weekend brimming with music, delectable local cuisines, and endless fun for attendees.
Residents of Optima Signature will only be a short walk away from the action when the race takes over Grant Park from July 1st-2nd, 2023. The carefully curated course runs through Chicago’s downtown streets, immersing visitors in the heart of the city. Starting from the iconic Buckingham Fountain, the race weaves through South Columbus Drive, Michigan Avenue, and South Lake Shore Drive. This route places drivers and visitors adjacent to some of Chicago’s most recognized architectural landmarks, including The Art Institute of Chicago, 333 South Wabash, The Congress Plaza Hotel, and One Museum Park.
The race weekend kicks off on Saturday, July 1st, with The Loop 121, spotlighting NASCAR’s rising stars, followed by the Grant Park 200 on Sunday, July 2, showcasing the biggest names in racing. While the races occupy only parts of each afternoon, artists such as The Chainsmokers, Miranda Lambert, and The Black Crowes are slated to fill the park with music between races.
If you haven’t secured your tickets for this inaugural event, you can find them here. And rest assured, if you’re not among the 50,000 expected attendees for the NASCAR Street Race, Chicago plans to host the races through 2025.
At Optima, our appreciation for sculpture runs deep, with Optima co-founder David Hovey Sr. expanding the design reach of Optima to include his own original sculptures. Indulging in our love for the craft, we’re exploring Chicago’s public art, piece-by-piece. This week, it’s all about Agora, by Polish sculptor and fiber artist Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930-2017).
It’s hard to miss the sculpture Agora, prominently displayed on the southwest side of Grant Park in Chicago. The 106-foot tall creation consists of a cluster of headless, walking figures, each made out of hollow and faded cast iron that was crafted in a Polish foundry. The artwork invites viewers to walk through the figures and contemplate. The figures themselves appear to be milling about in a crowd, all aimed in different directions.
The name Agora is a reference to the urban meeting places of Ancient Greek city states. The artist, Abakanowicz, grew up during World War II with an intense fear of crowds, and that claustrophobia is reflected in her work. Inspired, or rather horrified by, the groupthink of that time and Soviet rule, Abakanowicz brought the sculpture to life. She began working on creating large headless figures in the 1970s, using burlap and resin before the final cast iron form, and the sculpture was formally installed in Chicago in 2006.
Agora is Magdalena Abakanowicz’s largest permanent installation. However, she’s well known for her other textile sculptures and biomorphic forms, the most famous of which are her Abakans creations. The overwhelming response to her Abakans is what launched her to an international art spotlight, where she’s now regarded as one of Poland’s most internationally acclaimed artists.
We’re honored to celebrate the innovation, creativity, work and life of Magdalena Abakanowicz, a phenomenal woman and artist.