• Cavacava
    Here is Sir Anish Kapoor's arch way into Chicago's Millennium Park, construction from 2004/6 It kinda defies gravity, light & airy at 110 tons. A fantastic object that looks like it just landed.


    Here is a video of the entire piece, the center of the work, its navel is fantastic. See entire piece in this great video.

    The artist calls it "Cloud Gate", its cultural sobriquet is the Bean. The artist thought calling his creation a bean "stupid", I think Bean is right-on.


    The work of this art disconcerts the observer, the sky, the city and people are joined in its massive and fun distortion, bringing them together, perhaps as a congregation in a shared experience.

    Kapoor calls its underside the omphalos (navel), an indentation whose mirrored surface provides multiple reflections of any subject situated beneath The video has excellent view of this area.

    It reminds me of the inside of the basilica Sagrada Família:


    Unlike the anti-aesthetic of pop and conceptual art, the Bean defies contextualization, it seems to me to strive to bring a congregation of people, a city together. The observers are attracted by its exterior reflections, and inspired in its navel. A massive work of spiritual art, perhaps an indication of what is past postmodernism.

    It de-fragments disparate spaces, the arch of body and soul.

    [Kapoor is a British artist so is Mr. Bean]
  • Bitter Crank
    I've been to the bean and seen the bean and was mystically drawn up into the omphalos. I was in Chicago on a late 19th century building pilgrimage last week and wanted to take a friend to see it, but it didn't work out. Too windy, too rainy; too many buildings, too little time. Millennium Park is quite nice too, though I last saw it on a winter's night.

    Your comparison to La Familia Sagrada is canny.

    The omphalos figured into Hellenic religion; Zeus sent an eagle from the east and an eagle from the west and they met at the center of the world (Delphi). Chronos was given a stone called the omphalos; don't know who gave it to him, what happened to it, or what it was good for. Was it a dildo?

    The sex-obsessed will see a phallus (phalos) in the omphalos and there is indeed a phallic reference. There's also a reference to the uterus in the word (somewhere, it's hiding. Don't ask me where.) Obviously a very loaded word--uterus, phallus, navel. Omphaloi were important places to the hoi polloi.

    Down the sidewalk is another sculpture. In the winter the water is turned off, of necessity. There are two of these glass brick cubes facing each other, about 20 feet apart (-/+). The cubes are made of small hollow glass bricks; each brick has three LEDs, about 2 inches apart. The cubes can display motion, and sound can be added. It looks better at night than in the day time.
  • Cavacava
    The Millennium Park has much to offer residents and visitors to the city. Jaume Piensa's Crown Fountains also create public space, but in a very different manner than the Bean.

    While Piensa work is conceptually complex, the enjoyment of the space he created requires very little thought. Perhaps like watching TV. Remote operation of the boob tube is within the grasp of most couch potatoes.

    He describes these heads as gargoyles, water spouts. He seems to be a mainly fascinated with heads, structure body and the placement of his work in public areas. The fountains are interactive art, at the monumental scale, a spectacle, a carnival of enjoyment for spectators day and night.

    The Sculpture asked a 1000 local residents to pose for the faces that appear in the fountain, figures that required manipulation so that the images lips would purse exactly at the point when a gush of water is sent out.

    The public was not totally on board with this project when it was proposed, they thought it would be too highbrow, intellectual. The unexpected way children took to this space as a place to splash and slide around, thoroughly enjoying themselves quickly changed the public's perception and makes it one of the many jewels in this park.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    A great addition to The Great American City, the place of my birth, a town that will never let you down and which even Billy Sunday couldn't shut down. The Bean is a short walk from Miller's Pub, the Palmer House, The Gage and other fine establishments like Russian Tea Time (I recommend the horseradish-flavored Vodka), and of course the Chicago Art Institute and unrivaled architecture.
  • Bitter Crank
    Horseradish vodka.

    The Crown Fountain in winter is definitely less festive than in summer, but still effective on a cold, windy night, but in a different way. Michigan Avenue definitely becomes relatively deserted on weekday nights -- like, by 7:00. The commuters have gone home; such tourists as there are elsewhere. There is a public skating rink in the vicinity too. That evening there were maybe a a couple dozen people skating, having hot chocolate (with skates), and a few passersby. Nice also. Don't know why Minneapolis doesn't do something like that. (Northern cities put up wood fences, and flood the baseball diamonds in the parks for hockey or just recreational skating.)

    Minneapolis could, for instance, flood Peavey Plaza, immediately adjacent to Orchestra Hall, and set up a warming house, skate rental, with a hot chocolate and lefse shop. (Lefse is a thin potato crêpe sort of thing, buttered, sugared, rolled up, and eaten as an overpass memorial to bad Norwegian peasant food. There is no other good reason to eat it.) Instead the city wants to rip out the plaza and replace it with... god knows what. Maybe a giant bas relief of Norwegian peasants making lefse as they go mad in their sod huts on the great plains [see Ole Rølvaag, Giants in the Earth, 1924]. Yes, it's dated. It was built in 1970 so obviously it's too damned old.

    Here's an article on the neglect of Modernism, discussing Peavey Plaza.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    Mmmmmmmm. Horseradish.

    They make it themselves. It's served chilled, in a shot glass, with black bread and sliced pickles.
  • Bitter Crank
    I like a bit of horseradish in coarse mustard, and straight with a few things like roast beef. The black bread and pickles would help. I've tried to like vodka and have not made much progress. So maybe artesian horseradish vodka chilled to -459º F would work.

    I'd prefer a good reuben with real pastrami, sauerkraut, actual rye bread, etc. and a pilsner.
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