Sunday, May 22, 2011

Face to Face With the Bean

The Chicago Bean is easily the most popular public work of art in the city, and probably the most photographed one as well. On Saturday I stood next to the Bean for the first time in a few years, taking my own pictures, since who am I to reject the verdict of an adoring public?

I took a little extra time not only for pictures of the sculpture, but also of people taking pictures of the sculpture. I didn't capture it, but at one moment I counted no fewer than a half-dozen people on the same side of the Bean steadying themselves to take a picture of it. Of course it helped that, despite predictions of rain, it was a warm, dry day, although cloudy.

According to reports at the time it was built, artist Anish Kapoor disdained the nickname Bean, naming it "Cloud Gate" instead. That's the artist's prerogative, but if the public wants to ignore the formal name in its great admiration for the piece, he's a little churlish to complain about it. Maybe he's changed his mind since then. In any case, the girls were certainly fond of the silvery legume, and Lilly wanted me to take pictures of her near it, possibly to become her updated Facebook profile pic.

But we were only there a short time. Soon after we'd arrived, we heard that the graduation ceremony for the School of the Art Institute, which included my youngest nephew Robert, was under way. That's what we'd come downtown to see. Two nephews graduating from college within the space of eight days. How likely is that? From the Bean we made our way to the Great Lawn of the Pritzker Pavilion not far away. More on that tomorrow.

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