The stories behind seven public art projects
You’ve seen the Bean. The Picasso. The Calder. But let’s check out seven more sculptures around town--and the stories behind them.
"The Watch" by Hebru Brantley
These cool kids have been popping up all over town for the past few years. Maybe you spotted them last summer at Pioneer Court Plaza or you’ve seen them hanging around the tracks in Lincoln Square. Former graffiti artist Brantley created the child superheroes as a tribute to Chicago students and the trials they face in their neighborhoods. Check out the sculptures as you ride or run down the path near Museum Campus this summer. Sadly, the piece was vandalized last week, but the Chicago Park district has pledged to make repairs.
"Reading Cones" by Richard Serra
You may have walked past Serra’s minimalist steel walls in Grant Park and not looked twice--the 32-ton sculpture is somehow easy to miss. Get closer, though, and you’ll notice that this piece transforms depending on where you stand in relation to it.
Chicago Tree Project
Sick and dying trees are getting a second life this summer, thanks to the Chicago Tree Project, which lets sculptors transform them into whimsical artworks for the public to enjoy. Ten artists have used traditional carving methods, mixed media and embellishments to transform the trees. This one, by Nicolette Ross, is in Hyde Park. Use this map to find the rest.
"French Curve" by Nairy Beghramian
No need to pay admission to see this 55-foot-long site-specific work by Berlin-based sculptor Nairy Baghramian at the Art Institute. The piece is installed on the Bluhm Family Terrace through October 5, and you can reach it by entering the museum via the Modern Wing and heading up to the adjacent Terzo Piano restaurant. French Curve is a bonelike structure that celebrates the horizontal line rather than competing with the vertical city that surrounds it.
"Rara Avis" by Ralph Helmick and Stuart Schecter
The next time you’re racing through Midway Airport trying to catch a flight to some balmy Florida beach, look up. This delicate hanging sculpture is about both natural and manmade aviation. Peer closer and you’ll see thousands of little birds flying among tiny planes of all makes and models.
"I Will" by Ellsworth Kelly
Kelly’s gleaming, curved stainless-steel column is an elegant presence in Lincoln Park near Diversey Harbor, where it marks the northernmost point affected by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. “I Will” was the motto used by Chicagoans of the era as they worked to rebuild the city.
"Crossing" by Hubertus von der Goltz
This figure has been precariously making his way across LaSalle Street since 1998--long enough that the sculpture officially feels like part of the fabric of the city. But did you know it was meant to convey the surprising intersection of the commercial and cultural districts found there? Now the neighborhood is so saturated with both, it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.
"Wind Sculptures" by Yinka Shonibare, MBE
The Museum of Contemporary Art’s always-changing Plaza Project never disappoints on the drama front. Right now, go see London-based Shonibare’s 20-foot sculptures. The billowing bolts of fabric explore the concepts of national and ethnic identity.