Art project seeks $750,000 to light up Wabash
Loop North News

Art & Architecture

(Above) Rendering of The Wabash Lights, an art project being built under the elevated L tracks on Wabash Avenue in the Loop.

26-Dec-17 – Transforming the dark corridor that is Wabash Avenue into a bright and colorful part of the Loop will not be cheap.

Filmmaker Jack Newell and design strategist Seth Unger are planning a new fundraising campaign with the goal of raising at least $750,000 and possibly closer to $1 million to extend their Wabash Lights public art project another city block.

The plan is to eventually install beneath the L tracks on Wabash Avenue 600 LED lights that could be controlled by users of a mobile phone app.

In January 2016, four 12-foot LED fixtures were installed on Wabash between Monroe and Adams Streets for 15 months of testing and were then removed. $59,480 was raised from 918 investors to pay for the installation and testing and an additional $25,000 came from the media company, Comcast.

The Wabash Lights (Left) The first four Wabash Lights on January 26, 2016, seen from Monroe Street, looking north on Wabash Avenue. (Click on image to view larger version.)

The latest round of fundraising would pay for equipment, labor, and maintenance, plus creation of the mobile app.

“There was a time a few years ago when in Chicago a new mural would go up and it was exciting. I think people are getting fatigued by it,” says Newell (right). “Chicago used to be a leader in public art, now we are light years behind places like New York City – they just created a $100 million stairway to nowhere [a 15-story 600-ton work called Vessel on New York’s Far West Side with 2,500 climbable steps]. Why we are we letting NYC surpass us?”

Photo by Joe Mazza

Photo by Joe Mazza

For perspective, Newel points out that Millennium Park’s Cloud Gate cost $23 million.

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News |

Published 26-Dec-17 9:36 PM

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