Come one, come all…to the inspirational premiere of Jens Jensen The Living Green at Millennium Park, Thursday, June 19, 8:00 pm. This is the story of Jens Jensen – poet of the prairie; maker of public parks prophet of conservation.The 60-minute film, produced by Viva Lundin, will air on The Screen at Pritzker Pavilion and broadcast simultaneously on WTTW11.
Preceding the film at 6:30 pm will be a concert by eighth blackbird, Chicago’s popular contemporary chamber music sextet. The film’s director, Carey Lundin, WTTW’s Geoffrey Baer, and Piet Oudolf, designer of Chicago’s Lurie Garden, will introduce the film at Pritzker Pavilion.
Can’t make it? We hope to bring both Carey and the film to Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago in the coming months. Watch for details.
About the Film
(copy excerpt is from Jens Jensen The Living Green)
In the new documentary, “Jens Jensen The Living Green,” Danish born JENSEN (1860-1951) rises from street sweeper, to “dean of landscape architecture,” to pioneering conservationist. When Jensen arrived in Chicago in 1885, it was the fastest growing city in human history and considered the worst place on earth to live. DANIEL BURNHAM’S 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition thrust Chicago onto the world stage as a neo-classic fantasy that excluded most of the city. In contrast, Jensen, FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT and LOUIS SULLIVAN took the prairie as the inspiration for the new city. In Jensen’s new parks, JANE ADDAMS created playgrounds for working children who grew food in Jensen’s community gardens. So strong was his commitment, Jensen became know as “The Vexing Thorn” as he waged public battles against corrupt political bosses — he was usually fired.
Jensen designed over 600 prairie landscapes for clients like: HENRY and EDSEL FORD, SAMUEL INSULL, J.O. ARMOUR and Sears’ JULIUS ROSENWALD. Jensen leveraged these relationships to block the steel industry from industrializing the entire Indiana Dunes shoreline; it is now a National Lakeshore. When Jensen’s Plan for the West Parks “for a nobler tomorrow” was scuttled, he found inspiration from the first man to reach the North and Sough poles, ROALD AMUNDSEN who said his greatest experience was to be alone in the arctic. Jensen took his family to the wilds of Wisconsin, eventually establishing his school, The Clearing, in Door County.
Striking cinematography and an evocative soundtrack illuminate colorful witness from Prairie School architect ALFRED CALDWELL coupled with an intensely reflective and poetic interview with Jensen. His struggles to make the modern city livable mirror contemporary issues of urban overdevelopment that have created park and food deserts, and the need to repurpose decaying urban infrastructure. Jensen’s story boldly recalls America’s identity as “nature’s nation.”
Scholars in the Film Include:
ALFRED CALDWELL, (1903–1998) was an acolyte of Jensen, and an American architect best known for his landscape architecture in and around Chicago, Illinois.
DARREL MORRISON, FASLA, Columbia University, is a longtime advocate of the use of native vegetation in landscape design and restoration work.
ROBERT GRESE, M.S.L.A., B.L.A. Landscape Architecture, University of Georgia
Professor, Univeristy of Michigan, School of Natural Resources, Director of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.
WILLIAM H. TISHLER, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, BS and MLA Landscape Architecture
PETER B. HALES, professor in the Department of Art History and director of the American Studies Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago. An American historian, photographer, author, and musician specializing in American spaces and landscapes, the history of photography, and contemporary art.
JULIA BACHRACH, official historian, Chicago Park District, author
JO ANN NATHAN, The Jens Jensen Legacy Project, author