Signs and Wonders Shall Appear

07 – 10 October 2010
Hyde Park Art Center & Jackson Park Outer Harbor
Chicago, USA

Commissioned for Close Encounters 2009–2010
Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC)

Curators: Bruce Phillips (NZ), Chuck Thurow (USA)


  • Journey to Beaver Island and High Island, Lake Michigan;
  • print announcements in the Beaver Beacon;
  • 28 crates hand picked wild apples and old orchard apples;
  • custom painted sign on HPAC street frontage;
  • printed banner;
  • weigh scales, paper bags, sailing charts;
  • four apple pies.

    Design: Warren Olds (NZ)
    Signwriter: Stephen Reynolds (Chicago)
    Pie maker: Chuck Thurow (Chicago)
    Marine and road transport: Captain Mike & Gail Weede (Beaver Island, MI)

Supported by
Toi Aotearoa Creative New Zealand
Illinois Arts Council

With thanks to
Beaver Island residents Bob & Joan Banville, Bill Cashman, Mike and Gail Weede and McDonnough's Store. In Chicago: JPO Harbor Master Joe Williams, Connie Spreen and Experimental Station, AAA Rental System, Bruce Phillips, Lisa Reihana and Chuck Thurow.

Close Encounters was an experimental curatorial project initiated by the Hyde Park Art Center in collaboration with a number of other major cultural institutions in Chicago. It provided nine leading New Zealand and US artists with a series of shared experiences related to the nature
of community in a variety of Chicago settings in May 2008. The artists were then asked to create new works generated by this experience for the Hyde Park Art Center. The artists were Daniel du Bern (NZ), Tania Bruguera (US), Juan Angel Chávez (US), Walter Hood (US), Maddie Leach (NZ),Truman Lowe (US), Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle (US), Lisa Reihana (NZ) and Wayne Youle (NZ). Their work was presented in Chicago at different occasions 2009–2011.

Signs and Wonders Shall Appear concluded a year-long project focused on the apple trees of the Beaver Archipelago – a small group of islands in northern Lake Michigan. The remote archipelago has about 600 year-round inhabitants and a peculiar abundance of apple trees that form part of the legacy of the religious communities who retreated there in the 19th and 20th centuries. Leach shared her discovery of the island’s unique attributes by way of a specific transaction and call to interested persons. In early October 2010 (National Apple Month in the USA), a large painted sign on the Art Center’s garage door announced the arrival of apples from the island and directed passersby to a habourside site where they could receive them for free. Leach explained her motivation for the project: “In relation to reports about the increase in 'food deserts' in parts of Southside Chicago (neighbourhoods where there is a lack of access to fresh produce), I was interested in what might be made or grown on Beaver Island that could be could be transported to the Southside, and what these communities might have exchanged as goods in the past. I thought about how these old apple trees contained particular qualities of the island or of ‘island-ness’ and I interested in food items that are now considered rare, out of reach or covetable, such as heritage apples."

During the week the island's apples were available to Southside residents, curator Chuck Thurow baked four magnificent apple pies with different varieties, and manned a "pie-tasting" station at the local weekend farmers market.

Signs and Wonders Shall Appear


Signs and Wonders Shall Appear


Justin Gregory interviews Maddie Leach and Beaver Island historian and journalist Bill Cashman (1940-2014).
Art, fruit and confrontation, Radio New Zealand Arts on Sunday, 07 November 2010.