Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Bean & I

It's been about a whole year since I spent any time in Millennium Park downtown, so after my spicy lunch last Friday I walked on over. It was a flawless day for a little walk like that -- warm, not hot, with some clouds now and then to cover up the Sun now and then.

It's a popular park on such a summer's day, with no place more popular than the Bean.

The sculpture's formal name is "Cloud Gate," given to it by its creator Anish Kapoor. On a partly cloudy day, you can see how apt that name might be, with the clouds of the sky reflecting on the surface of the sculpture as well, but its legume shape captures the eye even at a distance, and retains its shape in any light or weather, so it is the Bean. I'd seen it before, of course, but maybe not on such a day, because it seemed different somehow last week, with an extra sheen on its already sheeny surface.

The reflections fascinate. They're the key to the piece. I imaged it painted white, or black, or even some festive piƱata colors. If so, passersby would pass by, perhaps thinking, "interesting." But few would linger; or stare into it; or touch it; or take pictures; or talk about it; or remember it. Add the sky, the Chicago skyline, the passersby, and every other reflection to its silver surface, and people do all those things.

From the north of the sculpture, I was struck by how faithfully, yet how distortedly, the Bean captured the buildings along Michigan Ave. That row has its place in my own little history, since in the summer of 1986 I marveled at the row of buildings just after sunset, while attending the Blues Festival (the Bean was still in the distant future). I was a visitor to Chicago at that moment, but thought, "I'd like to live here." The next winter, I moved to Chicago.

The Bean is worth your attention at pretty much any angle, though.


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