Chicago Photo Tribute #3: Art About Town, Present and Past

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

[This coming] weekend is the fourth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (that “C2E2″ thing I won’t shut up about) at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center, which my wife and I will be attending for our third time. As a tribute to this fascinating city, and an intro to C2E2 newcomers to provide ideas of what else Chicago has to offer while they’re in town, a few of this week’s posts will be dedicated to out experiences in the Windy City when we’re not gleefully clustered indoors with thousands of other comics and sci-fi fans.

Part One was worm’s-eye views of the skyscrapers and other upward fixtures about town. Part Two looked at Chicago from other angles. Today in Part Three: random acts of artists livening up the city over the past four years. Some of these streetside pieces remain in place today, waiting to greet you. Several moved on after we saw them, and you’ve missed your chance, unless you’re gung-ho enough to track them down to their current locations.

One of my favorite pieces hasn’t just been relocated; it’s been destroyed. This Shepard Fairey mural was created in 2011 as part of a Navy Pier art-walk exhibition. My wife and I saw it in April 2012 when we were in town for C2E2. In May 2012, the city decided its time was up and ordered painters to cover every last panel with artless white paint and restore this underpass to its natural state of ennui.

Shepard Fairey mural, Chicago

The more benign your design is, the better your chances of staying put and becoming a permanent fixture. This roundabout decor may not be true art with a title or a statement, but I expect it’ll remain in place much longer than some of these other works.

Imagine walking down the street and running across a 26-foot-tall, 40,000-pound Marilyn Monroe, performing scenes from The Seven-Year Itch. Disconcerting, right? Chicago thought so, too. The amazing colossal Ms. Monroe was likewise escorted off her prime Magnificent Mile spot and now resides in Palm Springs, California, as I was surprised to see on another blog a few months ago.

Marilyn Monroe statue, Chicago

No one ever protests her former neighbor, this bust of Chicago Cubs sportscaster Jack Brickhouse. If he’d been carved out of a 26-foot-tall chunk of bronze, and if he were more of a young hunk, I imagine the townspeople’s tolerance level would be very different indeed.

Jack Brickhouse bronze bust, Chicago

Also along the Magnificent Mile, but hiding in a cubbyhole easy to overlook, is one of several statues nationwide of Mexican President Benito Juarez. Apparently he’s cool, but I need to read up on him for the full story at some point. Your best Benito Juarez essays and book reports are most welcome in the Comments section below.

Benito Juarez statue, Chicago

Also along the Magnificent Mile, and likewise no longer in place, was one of several scintillating, oversize golf balls on display in September 2012, three months after the passing of their impressionist painter, Leroy Neiman.

Leroy Neiman painted golf ball, Magnificent Mile, Chicago, September 2012

Also on the Mile but not yet evicted is this guy hailing a cab for all eternity in front of the Four Seasons. He’ll always be there for you, and might even have a better chance than you of getting a cabbie’s attention. If he wins, be sure to thank him for his service.

Four Seasons guy hailing cab statue, Magnificent Mile, Chicago

Crown Fountain stands in Millennium Park as example of art that will leave Chicago over its citizens’ dead bodies. The display is a rotating array of faces of actual Chicagoans. Something would certainly be lost in translation if it were uprooted and sold to, say, Fresno.

Crown Fountain, Millennium Park, Chicago

If you catch Crown Fountain at just the right moment during the right season, you can watch its synchronized burbling, as the photos are arranged and timed accordingly.

Crown Fountain fountaining, Millennium Park, Chicago

Yvonne Domenge’s thirteen-foot carbon steel sculpture “Tabachin Ribbon” hung out in Millennium Park from April 2011 until September 2012, when all four tons of it were shipped to its new home in Fort Worth, Texas. (I’m just now noticing a pattern. Can someone tell me if 2012 is the year art died in Chicago? Was it declared public enemy #1? Is this entire entry in vain?)

Yvonne Domenge, Tabachin Ribbon, Millennium Park, Chicago

One of the most enduring, longest-lived pieces we’ve seen is Alexander Calder’s “Flamingo”, perched in the Loop since 1974. I’d rather not imagine this one being dismantled and stuffed in a box for long-distance shipping.

Alexander Calder, Flamingo, Chicago Loop

To be continued!

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