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A Year in Humbolt Park

By Michele Lenni in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 4, 2010 8:40PM

Photo by Dina Petrakis

Unfortunately as the summer has progressed the violence that has taken place across Chicago has changed our preconceptions and thoughts about many beautiful and beloved places in our city. Though it is sometimes difficult to imagine now, some of the hot spots where this violence occurred are also some of the city's most picturesque places; like the sprawling green, tree covered landscapes of Humboldt Park.

Dina Petrakis, a photographer hailing from Wicker Park, is encouraging just that. Translating some of the ideas of famed photographer Aldo Leopold, she has created A Year In Humboldt Park, a meditative photographic study of the park and the seasons that unfurl in its beauteous landscape. The result is nothing short of breathtaking.

Petrakis has been a longtime resident of Chicago who spends her days working in construction. As a result she has long been a fan of the process of an environmental transformation. She says, "I love the process of transformation. Every project is different, but each builds on what’s there and the work already done -- you can’t do drywall before the infrastructure is complete."

With her knowledge of a structure's metamorphosis and a 15-year love affair with the park, she decided to make a sort of visual diary of the park. She was intent on capturing not only the natural changes to the park, but man-made structural and architectural changes as well.

Petrakis says, "The vision of pioneering Prairie School landscape architect Jens Jensen, now a maintained city park, isn’t exactly nature, - but it is MY nature, OUR nature as city dwellers, and it vastly improves the quality of my life." Petrakis truly encapsulates the beauty of the park that we remember best. Her celebration of what is truly one of the city's treasures is something that everyone should see, if not just to remember that even though violence has come-and-gone, some of these places still reflect the optimism of the creators of our most valued landscapes.

We think that Jens Jenson, the park's designer said it best, "In the work of nature, man feels the Creator’s mysterious power. Here he first recognizes his own limitations and his own significance… In all its various moods, during all seasons of the year, it brings to us the message of the infinite."

A Year in Humboldt Park, August 11 - October 29, Humbdolt Park Boathouse, 1359 N Sacramento