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Yoko Ono to Bring SKY LANDING to Phoenix Garden in Chicago

• Standing just near the site of the lost Phoenix Pavilion in Jackson Park, Yoko Ono said, “It’s something like (between) Chicago and Japan that they sent me incredible, incredible intense openings of the heart from Chicagoans. It has to be something that should be returned from Japan.”
• She is going to dedicate her artwork “SKY LANDING” on the site in Wooded Island, Jackson Park in Chicago. It will be the first permanent work of art by Yoko Ono in the Americas and a marker of her place as an artist of profound international influence and of her lifelong mission for world peace.

• With her appearance, the Ground Healing Ceremony to celebrate the site of SKY LANDING was held on June 12 at the site.
• The site of the Phoenix Pavilion and surrounded area, called Phoenix Garden, have been under construction to enable a resurgence of a place where people explore and enjoy art, nature, music, and learn about the enduring legacy of Eastern and Western collaboration. The SKY LANDING construction has commenced by Project 120 Chicago, the Garden of the Phoenix Foundation, the City of Chicago, and Chicago Park District. The work will be completed and open to the public by June 2016.

• In his opening remarks, Robert Karr, President of Project 120 Chicago, said, “Japanese long believed that a phoenix descends from heaven, and a new era of peace and prosperity will begin.” He presented the more than 120-year-history of the Chicago-Japan relationship that began with the Columbian Exposition in 1893.
• On March 31st in 1893, Japanese and Americans got together in the Wooded Island to celebrate arrival of phoenix that took the form of the Phoenix Pavilion, which was located at the center of the Exposition. The Japanese commission, led by Seiichi Tejima, offered to present the Phoenix Pavilion to the City of Chicago as a permanent center to showcase Japan’s artistic heritage and to deepen understanding between the people of Chicago and Japan. The President of South Park District Joseph Donnersberger accepted the offer, and Chicago has maintained it for over 120 years through the ups and downs of the US-Japan relationship. Unfortunately, the Phoenix Pavilion was lost to a fire in 1946.

• Karr also spoke about “kanreki”, a 60-year cycle of human life that enables one to reflect upon one’s past and experience of rebirth and new understanding of one’s future. He said that when kanreki was applied to the legacy of Phoenix Pavilion and surrounding areas of the garden, during the first 60 years from 1893 to 1953, the Pavilion promoted mutual understanding and contributed to the Expo’s success, but the two countries also had a war in that period. The first 60 years were the time of construction and destruction.
• During the next 60 years, the U.S. and Japan together worked hard for peace between the nations and economic prosperity.
• He said, “Today, we reflect upon the past to embrace lessons of Phoenix to the Japanese garden on the Wooded Island, as it embarks on the next phase of its history. Now it’s beginning with SKY LANDING.”

• Yoko Ono said, “I learned a lot from this situation,” and continued, “The Japanese will have to know about this. I don’t think that many Japanese know about what is happening in Chicago and what was happening between Chicago and Japan. I’m quickly learning. I think that we just have to give back. You’re supposed to get tenfold back.”
• She goes back to Japan once a year and is doing the same this year. She said, “I definitely want something of Chicago to go there, too, because it is a very important thing, I think.”
• She thanked Chicagoans for opening their hearts for a long time commitment for the maintenance of the Phoenix and garden and said, “For the next 60 years, I will work very hard on this.” According to Karr, Ono is going to pay for her artwork “SKY LANDING”.

• As the U.S. representative, Michael Moskow, Vice Chair and Distinguished Fellow, Global Economy, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and chairman of the Japan America Society of Chicago, celebrated the enduring legacy of the East and West’s collaboration.
• He was a trade representative and involved in tense negotiations with Japan 25 years ago. He said, “Today’s US-Japan relationship is quite different. The relationship between the two countries has never been more important economically, politically, and culturally. According to him, Chicago Council’s survey on foreign policy showed that Americans viewed Japan as its most trusted partner in the Asia Pacific area.
• Moskow said, “The Chicago-Japan relationship has never been more dynamic and essential. Ms. Yoko Ono’s SKY LANDING will be an important addition to our city and help to build a strong foundation of the US-Japan cooperation, respect, and friendship.”

• Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “There is no doubt that Yoko Ono’s presence will be most honored with the only place in America for her artwork. I want to thank you for choosing Chicago.” With the President Obama library, Phoenix Garden with Ono’s artwork will be one of two major attractions on Chicago’s Southside. He said that Ono’s presence with her art would shape the future by looking into the past for its moral principle guidance going forward.

• Consul General of Japan Toshiyuki Iwado said that Mayor Emanuel’s participation sent a clear message that the special site was very important for the people of Chicago, and for our very close Japan-Chicago partnership.
• He mentioned the visit of the Iwakura Mission in 1872 as the beginning of the Japan-Chicago connection, which opened new doors during the Colombian Exposition, and said “Now, we are coming full circle. Chicagoans are bringing a new Phoenix Pavilion and this entire area to offer everyone a wonderful Japan experience. SKY LANDING will attract thousands and thousands of visitors, and the entire project will put Chicago even more on the map in Japan. Japanese people will see a bigger sign that says ‘Visit Chicago now.’”
• Referring to Karr’s word “kanreki”, Iwado said, “The 120-year-old site is now experiencing its second rebirth.”

• According to Robert Karr, Yoko Ono has a significant memory connected with Chicago. She and John Lennon visited Chicago in the 1970s, and Ono perceived that walking along Lake Michigan was as her own life. She wrote part of the song “Walking on the Thin Ice”, and it became the last piece that Ono and Lennon recorded together. He was killed on December 8, 1980, and the piece was released in 1981.

• Yoko Ono’s artwork “SKY LANDING” will be installed by next summer.
• To obtain up-date information and learn more about Phoenix Garden and legacy, visit gardenofthephoenix.org


Robert Karr, President of Project 120 Chicago, escorts Yoko Ono after she made a speech at the Grand Healing Ceremony.


Yoko Ono’s SKY LANDING will be installed between the pair of grassy mounds where the Phoenix Pavilion was built in 1893.


Robert Karr and his family stand beside an old toro lantern which
has been standing there since the Colombian Exposition in 1893.

Robert Karr, President of Project 120 Chicago


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel


Consul General Toshiyuki Iwado


Michael Moskow, Vice Chair of the
Chicago Council on Global Affairs



Miyumi Project and Tsukasa Taiko