Mayor Emanuel Joins Community at The 606 for Unveiling of Turning Sky and Second-Annual Walk with Light event

January 7, 2017

Installation of new public artwork is one of 2017’s first

Adriana Díaz, 312.564.8168

Christine Carrino, 312.744.0573

Chicago—January 7, 2016—Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined members of the community at The 606 today to unveil Turning Sky by Luftwerk––a major art installation that illuminates the Milwaukee Avenue bridge. Turning Sky is one of Chicago’s first public art works of 2017, which has been designated the Year of Public Art. The unveiling took place during The 606’s 2nd Annual Walk with Light.

Public art installations like Turning Sky have been made a priority by the City of Chicago through the creation of a first of its kind initiative in the new 50x50 Neighborhood Arts Project. Announced earlier this year in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2017 budget, the 50x50 initiative empowers Aldermen to dedicate up to $10,000 of menu funds to finance permanent public art installations across each of the 50 wards.

“Just like The 606, public art works have the power to transform public space and create a renewed sense of community and culture for all residents to enjoy,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Launching the 50x50 underscores our commitment to investing in every one of our neighborhoods, bolsters our own local talent, and continues a tradition of vibrant public art that has made Chicago the global cultural icon it is today.”

The application for 50x50 grants, launched yesterday, gives local artists an opportunity to seize a total of $1 million for new public art projects to transform the public way. The initiative is a tribute to the Year of Public Art; as well as Chicago’s 50 Wards and the 50th anniversary of two of its most seminal art works: the Picasso located in Daley Plaza; and the Wall of Respect, which once stood at 43rd and Langley in the city’s Bronzeville neighborhood.

"A beautiful addition to Chicago, Turning Sky follows our great tradition of public art but also pushes past with new technology and forms," said Mark Kelly, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. "It is this reputation for monumental and innovative public art that attracts culture lovers from around the world to live, work and visit the city."

Inspired by the story of The 606, Turning Sky, by Luftwerk duo Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero, is an abstract piece that uses light as a means to visualize local weather and air quality conditions.

“We’re honored to work with The 606 in bringing beauty and serenity to Chicagoans,” said Luftwerk artist Petra Bachmaier. “I believe art is exciting when it’s shared in public spaces.”

The installation will illuminate the Milwaukee Avenue bridge using pixels that will flash at various speeds to coincide with wind data (velocity, direction) and change colors to show current temperatures—conditions that will be displayed in real-time once the next phase of the art installation launches. Beginning in early February, Turning Sky's dynamic visualization of environmental conditions will be driven by data from The Array of Things urban sensing project.

“With the installation of renowned artist Luftwerk’s beautiful Turning Sky art work, The 606’s Milwaukee Avenue bridge is transformed into yet another example of how the Chicago Park District’s world-class collection of hundreds of fountains, monuments, and sculptures bring culture and art into our neighborhoods ,” said Chicago Park District CEO & Superintendent Michael P. Kelly.

“The idea to see and experience The 606 as a living work of art emerged during the design phase and through our extensive community engagement process,” said Jamie Simone, interim Chicago Director for The Trust for Public Land. “We’re thrilled to continue to make this vision come to life.”

Turning Sky was funded in part thanks to the generosity of supporters of The Trust for Public Land. At least 13 donors will be commemorated on a plaque along the Bloomingdale Trail for making a donation of $1000 or more to support arts at The 606. Additional gifts of $1000 or more will be recognized on the plaque through March 31.

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About The 606

The 606 is Chicago’s innovative park and trail system – featuring its centerpiece, the elevated, 2.7-mile-long Bloomingdale Trail – as well as four connected, ground-level neighborhood parks (with two more parks to come), the Exelon Observatory, public art installations, educational programming, and other amenities. Kids are learning to ride their bikes here, commuters are finding a new shortcut to work, and neighbors are making new friends. Serving more than 80,000 residents from surrounding neighborhoods and visitors from throughout Chicago and beyond, The 606 is changing the way you see our city. For more information, visit


About 50x50 Neighborhood Arts Project

Mayor Emanuel and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) have designated 2017 the “Year of Public Art” with a new 50x50 Neighborhood Arts Project, the creation of a Public Art Youth Corps, a new Public Art Festival, exhibitions, performances, tours and more—representing a $1.5 million investment in artist-led community projects. The 50x50 initiative has earmarked up to $1 million for local artists to finance neighborhood art works this year. To get more information or to apply for grants, residents are encouraged to visit


About The Trust for Public Land  The Trust for Public Land serves as lead private partner and project manager for The 606 on behalf of the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District. The Trust for Public Land’s mission is to create parks and protect land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To learn more, visit


About The Chicago Park District  The Chicago Park District is the 2014 Gold Medal Award winner, recognized for excellence in park and recreation management across the nation. For more information about the Chicago Park District’s more than 8,500 acres of parkland, more than 595 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 12 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, nearly 50 nature areas, thousands of special events, sports and entertaining programs, please visit or contact the Chicago Park District at 312.742.PLAY.