Sunday, July 4, 2010

Here's Looking At You: Chicago Gets the Eye

"The odyssey of Chicago's new Eye sculpture"
Arts, Chicago Tribune (July 3, 2010)

Or, "How the giant sculpture got from rural Wisconsin to the Loop"

"On the ides of June, while squinting at a cluster of threatening clouds from his perch on a grassy construction site just outside of Sparta, Wis. this small city, Chicago sculptor Tony Tasset is, to use his words, totally freaking out.

" 'You know those reality shows?' Tasset says, a slightly uneasy smile on his face. "This is that part when the team is up against their deadline, and it looks like they're never going to finish on time.'

"Tasset's 'team' is made up of a half-dozen fiberglass workers at Sparta's Fast Corp. (Fiberglass Animals Shapes and Trademarks), who have been assigned to construct the artist's largest piece to date: a giant eyeball aptly named Eye, which, upon completion, will stand three stories tall and stare east from the Loop's Pritzker Park, at State and Van Buren streets. Tasset was commissioned for the job last fall by the Chicago Loop Alliance, and Fast Corp., with which he had collaborated on prior sculptures (including a 12-foot-high eyeball), took the engineering reins earlier this year...."

Maybe a more important question than how this titanic eyeball got to Chicago's Loop is why?! The article answers that, too:

"...Eye was commissioned by the Chicago Loop Alliance as part of its premiere Art Loop installation: a new, temporary work 'by an important artist' to be installed each summer in the Loop and paired with free programming. For its part, the CLA is promoting the sculpture as if it were the next 'Bean.'

" 'We wanted to have someone do something that we thought was fun and a little irreverent,' said CLA Executive Director Ty Tabing, who sat on the committee of art-centric locals that picked Tasset as the debut Art Loop artist. 'His art is not too highbrow,' Tabing said via telephone in June, 'and still very provocative and thought-provoking at the same time.'..."

I'm not sure that "thought-provoking" is quite what I'd call a 30-foot eyeball staring across the heads of Chicago's commuters. Or maybe I'm being too narrow in the way I define "thought."

It's possible that the sight of that outsized, disembodied eyeball will encourage some to give up drink, see a psychiatrist, or run - screaming - to fling themselves in Buckingham fountain a few blocks east. Provided the traffic doesn't get them on the way.

Okay: "a few blocks east and a little south."

One thing puzzles me about the article. I don't mean some group of citizens intentionally arranging for a huge ersatz eyeball to be placed in their city: 'art' folks have been doing weird, bizarre things for most of my life.

It's that cryptic reference to "Bean." Someone who lives in Chicago and follows culture and the arts there probably knows what "Bean" is - and if that person is you, I'd appreciate it if you'd share your knowledge in a comment. Thanks in advance!

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