Campoli's Bird of Peace Rededicated
March 19, 2005, at "Eggstravaganza"

A goodly crowd of citizens, notables, children, and dogs assembled on a morning with Equinox in the air to officially welcome to the arch of Nichols Park Fieldhouse/Murray Language Academy Gym the park's mascot, Hyde Park sculptor Cosmo Campoli's Bird of Peace (known also as "Guarding the Nest").

Heather Kelly, Park Supervisor, served as master of ceremonies for speakers Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (4th), South Lakefront Region Manager Elizabeth Millan, Nichols Park Advisory Council President Stephanie Franklin, Art Institute of Chicago instructor and Campoli friend James Zanzi, Cosmo's daughter Anna Campoli Kolata, friend Arch Pouncing, friend and artist Rob Borja, and Conservator of the sculpture Andrezej Dajnowski. The speakers praised those who made the restoration and siting possible and added stories about Cosmo and his work.

The crowd also sang "Happy Birthday" to Cosmo, whose birthday is March 21, and honored his devotion to peace, beauty and nurturing, all with strong resonance in Hyde Park. Afterwards, the crowd retired to the fieldhouse for refreshments and a suite of activities inside and out for kids, adults, and even dogs, including games, jumping jack, face painting, photos with the Easter Bunny, and crafts. There were also egg scrambles by age groups and for dogs on the half hour. A photo exhibit of representative works by Campoli is on display at the fieldhouse until March 26.

Dedicatory Statement: Cosmo Campoli, March 21, 1923-December 15, 1997

Cosmo Campoli's "Bird of Peace" is probably one of Hyde Park's best known sculptures. Affectionately known as "The Egg," its bird-like form has rested in Nichols Park since its original dedication on June 3, 1970, and has been enjoyed by generations of neighborhood children.This five-foot bronze bird has the body of an egg with a beak and two legs that hold two more eggs. Campoli called the sculpture "Bird of Peace" because he believed that the bird is the most peaceful thing there is—especially a bird settling her eggs around her. The rough stone base of the statue resembles a nest. Campoli had many memories of seeing chicks hatch and said "the egg is the most exquisite shape there is. You hold one in your hand and you are holding the whole universe."

Anna Campoli Kolata

Heather Kelly,
Nichols Park Supervisor

Robert Borja (friend), Stephanie Franklin (NPAC), and Alderman Toni Preckwinkle

The Great Bird of Peace, known as "The Egg" stood on a pedestal in the west end of the park south of 54th Place line. Its original name was "Bird of Peace" but it also became known as "Guarding the Nest." The sculptor was Hyde Parker Cosmo Campoli. It is a satin-finished semi-abstract form poised over a granite basin with pedestal.  It was  cast at Mr. Campoli's North Side foundry (and sat in his Hyde Park living room for some time) and rests on a base designed and constructed at the time by the Chicago Park District, intended by the sculptor to be one with the bronze statue.  Campoli was a member and judge on the HPKCC (parks and schools) Sculpture Committee headed by Muriel Beadle. When the committee's choice for sculpture in Nichols Park proved unworkable (requiring a massive concrete base), Campoli and the committee worked out a deal to use Campoli's Bird of Peace at a reduced price. For those in the know it is fondly called "the Egg".

The statue was dedicated June 3, 1970. It was stolen and vandalized c. 1981. September 2, 1981, a group of residents sought to raise money for repairs. Repairs started March 9, 1983. Unfortunately, the steel pins between the statue and base were inadequate: For the second time in its career in the park, it was stolen (in the winter of 2000). The pins on which it rested were sawn through, probably over several evenings, then the Egg was rolled to behind a Kimbark Ave. apartment building, being badly scratched and dented in the process. A park friend's dog tracked it down. Restoration, under Park District master restorer Andrezej Dajnowski, was difficult and required a combination of wax-and-torch chasing and sanding, 6 inches at a time, with duplication of patination in a manner so as to preserve as much as possible of the original. The Bird of Peace was placed , with its original base as desired by Campoli's daughter and the Council, in fall, 2004 north of the main door of the Murray gym addition, framed by the architectural square arch, as requested by the Council.

Campoli grew up on an Indiana farm near the Illinois border and was from an early age what what would later be called an "action" sculptor literally infusing energy and life into each piece, mainly in clay at an early age. After art schooling he taught at the School of Design at ITT where he influenced many subsequent artists. His interest was in organic, nurturing, rounded "yen" forms, particularly portraying the spirit of birds, other animals, eggs largely in bronze, clay or stone, or else multi-material objects such as abstracted birdbaths. Not surprisingly, most of his extant works are in private collections. Also, he lived for beauty, life and light and paid perhaps inadequate attention to the gallery-and-school "validation" system, marketing, or moving to Lincoln Park, New York or the West Coast. His work was at the Alan Frumkin Galleries, though. Although there was some recognition of his work in retrospective survey at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, Cosmo is one of a great many superior modern artists who have fallen between the art-critical cracks and been largely forgotten.

The Nichols Park's mascot, "Bird of Peace" by Cosmo Campoli, has been lovingly restored for $10,000 (after mistreatment during theft over 2 years ago) and was installed mid-September, 2004, at the new fieldhouse/Murray addition, framed by the open arch, to general satisfaction including Nichols Park Advisory Council. The restoration, by noted Andrezej Dajnowski, involved burnishing 6 sq. inches at a time with an old-time torch and wax procedure. If the scratches had gone much deeper, full restoration would have been impossible. The concrete pad has been laid, lighting installed, and, the original stone pedestal moved to the new site (as requested by Campoli's daughter). Titanium steel rods are used. All hope it will be more secure in its new locale. The main drawback is that its setting in garden bed with a hedge discourages walk-around.

Arch Pounian

Elizabeth Millan,
Chicago Park District

Andrezej Dajnowski,

This page is brought to you by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Parks Committee and website, with assistance of Nichols Park Advisory Council, an affiliate committee of HPKCC. Photographs copyright George Rumsey and Gary Ossewaarde.

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