Art of the Landscape:  A Retrospective on the Landscape Architect

Jens Jensen

In tribute to landscape designer Jens Jensen (b. Sept 13, 1860 – d. Oct. 1, 1951) the exhibition features

photography by Arie S. Friedman

paintings by Yelena Klairmont

poetry by Emma Kowalenko

and historical documentation by Elliott Miller including prints of photographs taken by Jens Jensen himself


Artwork on display at:

Anatomically Correct Gallery,

1946 First Street, Highland Park, IL


Artwork on display through November 12, 2006

Gallery Viewing Hours:  Saturdays noon - 5 pm & by appt



In honor of Jensen’s original walking tour group, the “Prairie Club”, the gallery will be distributing guides to visitors who wish to conduct their own series of "Saturday Afternoon Walking Trips," to the Jensen areas in Highland Park, Ravinia and Lake Forest.

The Gallery also offers for sale handmade prairie soaps and prairie seed packets (plant your own prairie!)


Jensen's Bridge today by Arie S. Friedman


Jens Jensen – During the late nineteenth century, Chicago and the surrounding areas developed quickly. Skyscrapers, the city’s elevated railway system, improved roads, and a new drainage system helped to rank Chicago as an important city.   However, a Danish immigrant, Jens Jensen realized that the native landscape was quickly disappearing and set out to preserve it.   It wasn't long before Jensen’s prairie style of landscape architecture attracted attention.   North Shore residents from Lake Forest, Highland Park and nearby Ravinia and in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin commissioned Jensen to create his "American Garden" on their private estates (among them the Armours, Rosenwalds, Florsheims, Ryersons, Beckers and Fords).   He founded the Friends of Our Native Landscape, an organization that was instrumental in preserving important natural areas throughout the Midwest.   He was a driving force in establishing the Illinois State Parks system and the Cook County Forest Preserve District, the Illinois state park system, the Indiana Dunes State Park and National Lakeshore.  For Chicago’s West Park System, he created Columbus Park on the western edge of Chicago, and redesigned three other large west-side parks (Humboldt, Garfield, and Douglas) as well as 15 small ones. He also designed parks in smaller cities – among them Racine and Madison, Wisconsin; Dubuque, Iowa; and Springfield, Illinois.




A photograph of Rosewood Bridge taken by Jensen, so named for the Rosewood estate (now known as Rosewood Park) located at the east end of Roger Williams Avenue in Highland Park, IL -  circa 1914.























Jensen also saw a connection between the performing arts and nature. In many of his small park designs, he included a "players’ green or council ring." The green was a slightly elevated sun-opening, which served as the stage for outdoor theatrical performances with the audience seated on the ground on an adjacent meadow. Jensen promoted the use of masks, drumming circles and other outdoor theatrical productions to educate people about nature and conservation. Jensen’s council rings, based on his observations of local Indian tribes, were made from layered stones, and served as a gathering or meeting place within his natural settings.


In this exhibit, you will also see paintings by Yelena Klairmont of Caldwell's Pond - Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL.   Landscape architect Alfred Caldwell was a local Chicago-area practitioner and a protégé of legendary Chicago landscape architect Jens Jensen. Between 1924 and 1929, Caldwell assisted Jensen on some of his most important projects.  Caldwell described his mentor as “the great symbol of my life.”   Caldwell designed several park projects, including the Lily Pool in Lincoln Park in the late 1930s.  This pond serves as an important resting point for several species of migratory birds.

Jensen & Caldwell




Following his retirement at age 75, Jensen purchased land in Door County, Wisconsin and achieved his longtime dream of establishing "The Clearing" whose mission is "to provide diverse educational experiences in the folk school tradition, in a setting of quiet forests, meadows and water. The Clearing is a place where adults who share an interest in nature, arts or humanities can learn, reflect and wonder...  Jensen saw The Clearing as a place where city people could renew their contact with the 'soil' as a basis for life values.  Today, many people come to The Clearing for this same sense of renewal and to be able to better manage the stresses and strains of everyday life in a complex and fast-paced world."


Jensen at the Cliff House in The Clearing, WI.










The Jensen family at the beach in Door County, WI











Jensen as a young man and later contemplating at his Council Ring on his property in Ravinia, IL (Dean Avenue).



In addition to his landscape art, Jensen was a talented photographer.   He documented and photographed the natural areas and its flora throughout the Midwest.     Jensen also authored "Siftings", a sort of memoir where he shares his memories of "wandering in many lands".

        Jensen in 1943          A photo taken by Jensen in 1913

Jensen's book Siftings

Series: American Land Classics
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Year: 1990

Where are Jensen's landscapes today?

Jensen's prairie style landscapes were commissioned by homeowners along Chicago's North Shore between 1900 and 1935, but only a portion have been identified.   “Jensen landscapes are worth their weight in gold,” says Arthur Miller, from Lake Forest College, "Of the roughly 40 known Jensen commissions in Lake Forest alone, just over half have been pinpointed. The rest, if they exist, are at risk of destruction by uninformed property owners."     In the late 1980s, Two Gables - a mansion on Green Bay Road owned by television star "Mr. T" - caused a nationally-publicized uproar when he destroyed Jensen designed gardens and cut down more than 100 trees on the grounds, reportedly because they bothered his allergies. The current owners have expressed long-range plans to restore the grounds to the Jensen design. 

Preservation of the actual places created by Jensen is as important as preserving the legacy of his ideas,” writes Robert E. Grese, author of  Jens Jensen: Maker of Natural Parks and Gardens, “Now, more than ever, urban as well as suburban and rural people need to feel reconnected to the natural landscape and its cycles.”

Many Jensen landscapes have survived on the North Shore, including ones at Northwestern University, the Evanston Art Center (maintained by the Evanston Garden Club) and Mahoney Park in Kenilworth and the entrance drive of the former William V. Kelly Estate, now the Harrison Conference Center in Lake Bluff.    Below are others...


Jens Jensen landscaped the Rosenwald estate, now known as Rosewood Park.    It was purchased by the Highland Park Park District from the Rosenwald family in two parts, the first in 1928 the second in 1945. 

 The reflecting pond at Upper Rosewood is what remains of his work.

Also site of Jensen's famous stone bridge.




The grounds of Moraine Park on Hotel Moraine

2501 Sheridan Road, Sheridan Rd. and Moraine Rd.  

This was designed by Marshall Johnson (Jensen's son-in-law)






Jensen's Shakespeare Garden on the Northwestern University Campus.



Jens Jensen Park is located at 540 Roger Williams Avenue, Roger Williams Avenue and St. Johns Avenue in Ravinia (across from the train station).   The Park was created by Jensen in 1924, however it was not maintained over the years.    Jensen had his studio two blocks from the park.   The park contains native shrubs and trees, natural materials and a stone council ring.   The large boulder in the middle of the ring holds a memorial to August (Mrs. Julius) Rosenwald, Jensen's patron and friend.

The organization "Friends of Jens Jensen Park" began as a neighborhood initiative to raise funds to restore the park.  In June 2006, The Friends of Jens Jensen Park and the Park District of Highland Park held a groundbreaking ceremony for the restoration of the Jens Jensen Park.    For more information please call the Friends of Jens Jensen Park at 847.266.9950.



Private Estate Gardens in Highland Park, IL



What will Happen to the Becker-Segal Estate and Grounds?
405 Sheridan Road, Highland Park
, IL


Built in 1920, this home has three fireplaces, six bedrooms, seven & 1/2 bathrooms, a seven car garage  (with separate coach house, greenhouse, gazebo, tennis courts, hot tub and pool) has an asking price of $19,600,000.   The home was designed by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw for A.G. Becker and sits on 17-acres of beach front property facing Lake Michigan.   Inside the home, floor to ceiling windows provide views of 500 feet of the private beach.    The grounds were originally designed by landscape architect Jens Jensen for the Becker family.   The gardens have been fully restored over the past decade and rank as one of the best early-20th century landscapes in the Chicago area.   The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places thanks to a nomination by Susan Benjamin of Benjamin Historic Certificates.     The U.S. government took control of the mansion after its owner - insurance executive  Michael Segal - was convicted in June 2004.     Orren Pickell Designers & Builders was the highest bidder for the property in mid-September 2006.     The developer signed a letter of intent to purchase the property in February 2006 with the intension of building multiple homes on the site.



What will Happen to Lansdowne and Grounds?

A mansion built by Benjamin Marshall in 1911 for Rand McNally (yes, the map emperor) on 21 Acres of lakefront property in Lake Bluff, IL is for sale for $25 million.   The 14,000 sq. ft. home is a Georgian and includes 11 bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms, a coach house, tennis courts, a pool, a polo field, formal gardens and a winding drive that crosses two limestone bridges and grounds designed by landscape architect Jens Jensen.   The home will likely be preserved on its own 3 acre parcel, but the property could be subdivided and the Jensen grounds bulldozed.


What will Happen to the The Harrison House and Grounds?

136 Green Bay Road, Lake Bluff, IL


Another Howard Van Doren Shaw mansion, with landscaping by Jens Jensen which includes a council ring, two limestone bridges and two ponds can be found at 136 Green Bay Road (now known as the Harrison Conference Center).    The 32 acre parcel is being considered for development by Stonebridge Lake Bluff, LLC.   The proposed Planned Residential Development (PRD) consists of a mix of single-family homes, duplexes, and condominium residences.    The Harrison Conference Center provides 10,500 square feet of meeting space, 83 guest rooms, dining accommodations, and fitness facilities; such as pools, tennis and basketball courts, and a driving range.  On June 10, 2005 the Village Board approved an ordinance designating the Coach House, Manor House, and certain landscape as local historic landmarks.  On October 11, 2005, the Village Board approved preliminary plans for the proposed planned residential development, which was submitted by Stonebridge Lake Bluff, LLC.


Many have suggested that the Jensen landscapes described above be landmarked and at least one reserved for use as  a Jensen interpretive center, a school for landscape design and grounds left as a park in tribute to Jensen's legacy.   What do you think?     Email us with your comments:


Do you have historical photographs of Jensen's landscaped designs?    We are interested in collecting as many photos as possible for publication in a book on Jensen landscapes on the North Shore.    Please email with your information.




Arie S. Friedman – Arie Friedman was born in Central Illinois and has lived almost his entire life on the western shore of Lake Michigan. As the descendant of over 100 years of Midwesterners and Chicagoans, Arie uses photography to explore an ever deepening personal relationship with region in which his family continues to make its home.  His professional background is anything but artistic in nature. Graduating with a biology degree from the University of Chicago in 1987, he spent the next seven years flying helicopters as a United States Naval Aviator, including two overseas deployments during the first Gulf War. In 1994, Arie left the Navy to enter the University of Illinois College of Medicine which led to his current career as a pediatrician in Lincolnshire, Illinois. Over the last few years, he has revived a youthful interest in photography and believes that his technical background readily lends itself to the rapidly changing field of digital photography.   Arie’s current projects focus on the subtle and unique beauty of the trees, prairies, and people of the Central and Upper Midwest. Having grown up within blocks of the original “Clearing”, Arie has found that the landscapes and writings of Jens Jensen in particular provide endless artistic inspirations. It is Arie’s expectation that he will spend the foreseeable future further exploring Jens Jensen’s immense and invaluable natural legacy.

Pine Cone Abstract by Arie S. Friedman Pine Bark #1 by Arie S. Friedman Sand-Milkweed by Arie S. Friedman

Spruce Bark by Arie S. Friedman Sycamore Bark by Arie S. Friedman Pine Bark #2 by Arie S. Friedman

Lyonia-ligustrina by Arie S. Friedman

Lily Pad by Arie S. Friedman

Solitary Columbine by Arie S. Friedman

Yelena Klairmont – Yelena began her career as an instinctive artist executing public murals and later sought formal training at the American Academy of Art. She also studied at the University of Toronto and DePaul University. Her artwork has been exhibited at College of Lake County, 4Art Gallery, Chicago Art Open, Illinois State Gallery, Gallery 60035, Highland Park, IL, the Highland Park Public Library. Corporate collections include Harris Bank, Highland Park, IL and Highland Park Bank and Trust, Highland Park, IL and Municipal Collections: City of Highland Park, Highland Park, IL.  Her landscapes reflect nature’s variety in a perspective which is close and intimate as a reminder of the surpassing value of each blade of grass, and the unimaginable treasure of the whole. Three years ago, she undertook a project of preserving in oil paint one of the Midwest's most beautiful yet fragile resources- ravines and bluffs of the North Shore. Inspired by the renowned Chicago landscape architect Jens Jensen’s effort to promote nature and his “breathing spaces” concept in an over-urbanized society; her works depict many of Jensen’s architectural structures incorporated in his landscape designs of ravines, parks, and forest preserves. This series of paintings aim to capture the continuously evolving cycle of nature, a cycle that with increased public support for preservation will never have to end. Yelena is a 15-year resident of Highland Park.  

Prints are available of all Yelena's paintings

Jensen's Bridge, Oil on Canvas, 60 x 48"

Yelena Klairmont

(Print Only Available)

Jensen's Bridge #2, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 36"

Yelena Klairmont

Jensen's Walk, Oil on Canvas, 60 x 36"

Yelena Klairmont

Jensen's Council Ring, Oil on Canvas, 60 x 36"

Yelena Klairmont

 Yellow Light, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 36"

Yelena Klairmont

Red Fall, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 36"

Yelena Klairmont




Dean Ave Ravine in Fall, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 24"

Yelena Klairmont

(Print Only Available)

Ravinia Council Ring

Oil on Canvas, 36 x 24"

Yelena Klairmont

Rosewood Beach

Oil on Canvas, 4' x 6'

Yelena Klairmont

Caldwell Pond Abstract #2

Oil on Canvas, 36 x 60"

Yelena Klairmont 

Caldwell Pond Abstract #1

Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48"

Yelena Klairmont

Caldwell Pond , Lincoln Park Zoo  

Oil on Canvas, 22 x 28"

Yelena Klairmont

Caldwell Pond , Lincoln Park Zoo  

Oil on Canvas, 48 x 36"

Yelena Klairmont

(Print Only Available)

Caldwell Pond  #5

Oil on Canvas, 30 x 24"

Yelena Klairmont

Illinois Prairie Flowers, 5 panels

Oil on Canvas

36 x 12" each

Yelena Klairmont

Preservationist Elliott Miller – Elliott has a keen interest in local history, a background in historical writing, archival methodology, and museum exhibition development. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree (cum laude) in Anthropology from American University, Washington, D.C. , and a Master of Arts degree in Humanities with a specialty in archeology from the University of Chicago, and has studied Archival Methodology at the Library of Congress and interned in the Dept. of Ethnology at the University of Chicago. Elliott has 20 year career in technical writing, has been a consultant developer of archeology and ethnology exhibits at the Spertus Museum in Chicago and has written journal articles and exhibit catalogs. Elliott has served as a Member and past Chair of the Highland Park Historic Preservation Commission, a past Board Member and newsletter editor of The Friends of Jens Jensen, has conducted programs that celebrated the history of Highland Park for Historic Preservation Month and developed exhibits concerning Ravinia such as the history of Ravinia School for the school’s centennial in 1997 and the history of the Ravinia community for the centennial of Ravinia’s annexation to Highland Park in 1999. He also presented “Ravinia the Artists Colony,” for the Highland Park Public Library in 2001 and has worked with the Ravinia Neighborhood Association.  In the course of his research, he has located and interviewed numerous individuals who lived in Ravinia in the early 1900's and collected photographs, memoirs, and other memorabilia of old Ravinia.  He has also conducted documentary research at local public and university libraries and museums and is familiar with the collections of Highland Park-related materials throughout the Chicago area.

Emma A. Kowalenko - Poetic Magic of Landscapes - Emma is one of the founding members and currently serves as the marketing chair of EAST ON CENTRAL – A Journal of Art and Letters, along with its Editor-in-Chief Judith M.K. Tepfer, Judith Bernstein, Sam Bernstein, Sumner Garte, Paul Max Rubenstein and Sandra K. Strauss. Now in its fourth year of publication, the Journal combines the concept of blending the literary and visual arts and includes prose, poetry, visual arts and thematic pieces. Also, the participants conduct readings throughout the Highland Park community and manage programs throughout the year to encourage other artists and writers. Their programs and publications are supported by retail sales, and grants from the City of Highland Park’s Cultural Commission, the Illinois Arts Council, and many generous private and business donors. This year’s theme for the publication is “Highland Park in Touch with Nature.”    Inspired by Yelena Klairmont's Jensen themed paintings, in 2005, Emma created a series of poems under her pen name Emma Alexandra. Her poems were included with Yelena’s paintings in an exhibition at ARC Gallery in Chicago.   Emma has a M.A. in history from Northeastern Illinois University and with her husband Anthony, owns and operates Kowalenko & Bilotti, Inc. (K&B) which provides management, training, information technology, transportation planning, environmental, research, and technical support services to a variety of public and private sector clients. Emma and her family live in Highland Park.

L to R -  Arie S. Friedman, Emma Kowalenko, Highland Park's Mayor Belsky, and Yelena Klairmont at the opening reception     Sept. 16, 2006.

Michael Lieber and his celtic/bluegrass ensemble play during the reception.



 Emma Kowalenko recites her poetry that accompanies Yelena Klairmont's paintings.





Special Thanks to Flavors by Northshore Cookery in Highland Park for donating appetizers for the opening reception.

Pioneer Press

Lake Shore Diversions 9-14-06

Show displays luscious landscapes



Jens Jensen tribute and exhibit, opening reception 7 to 10 p.m. Sept. 16 at Anatomically Correct Gallery, 1946 First St., Highland Park. Free. Exhibit viewing hours are noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays or by appointment through Oct. 27.

Red. Yellow. Purple. Orange. All the brilliant colors of autumn unite several North Shore artists and the famous, but long dead, landscape architect Jens Jensen. Residents can view some treasured Jensen landscapes in various media and tour some that have survived the many changes on the North Shore over the last century.

The Art of the Landscape, a retrospective on landscape architect Jens Jensen, begins with a free reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Anatomically Correct Gallery, 1946 First St., Highland Park.

Photographs by Jensen will be surrounded by work of North Shore residents such as photographs by Arie S. Friedman, paintings by Yelena Klairmont and historical documentation on Jensen by preservationist Elliott Miller.

The reception also will feature a poetry reading by Highland Park resident Emma Kowalenko, who has composed poems based on Klairmont's paintings of Jensen landscapes. In honor of the Prairie Club, a walking tour group that Jensen lead, the gallery will distribute maps to visitors who wish to conduct their own visits to the Jensen areas in Highland Park and Ravinia.

Natural setting

The Rosewood Bridge has universal appeal and appears in photographs by Friedman, paintings by Klairmont and photographs by Jensen himself by preservationist Miller. This bridge is located in Rosewood Park at the east end of Roger Williams Avenue in Highland Park.

"Jensen realized that the native landscape was quickly disappearing and set out to preserve it," she said. "He was way ahead of his time as a preservationist."

Jensen was a driving force in establishing the Illinois state parks system, the Cook County Forest Preserve District, the Indiana Dunes State Park and the National Lakeshore.

Inspiration to many

Artist Klairmont's art is inspired by Jensen's work and words. Quoting from a Jensen book, "Siftings," she acknowledged his words expressed her perspective so well that she quoted him:

"Arts must be a guide, a leader in the evolution of mankind towards a higher spiritual goal, none of the arts is more able to do this than that of the garden. It is a living expression of peace and happiness and therefore a great influence in the forming of a people."

Jensen determined that if people could not get to nature, he would bring it to them, she said.

Jensen, a Danish immigrant and landscape architect, set out to preserve the native landscape on the North Shore during the early 20th century. North Shore residents from Lake Forest, Highland Park and Ravinia commissioned Jensen to create his American Garden on their private estates.

Further reading:
Julia S. Bachrach. The City in a Garden: A Photographic History of Chicago Parks. University of Chicago Press, 2001.
Charles A. Birnbaum. Pioneers of American Landscape Architecture. McGraw-Hill, 2000.
Leonard K. Eaton. Landscape Artist in America: The Life and Work of Jens Jensen. University of Chicago Press, 1964.
Robert E. Grese. Jens Jensen: Maker of Natural Parks and Gardens. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.
Wilhelm Miller, Introduction by Chrisopher Vernon. The Prairie Spirit of Landscape Gardening. University of Massachusetts Press, 2002.

Founded in 1991, Anatomically Correct is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to showcasing works by artists in alternative spaces in a combined effort to educate, diversify, and promote community awareness of the visual and performing arts.   

All artwork available for purchase.

For more information, please contact:

Anatomically Correct