By Megan Horst-Hatch
Ever wanted to see a statue at work or gawk at a sculpture park? In the Chicagoland area, bizarre sculptures abound, adding a touch of whimsy in the most unexpected of places or making the viewer scratch their head in confusion. After all, it’s not often that visitors come in contact with a water carrier, an oversized fish or a clock that doesn’t tell time. The following must-see examples of public art are definitely memorable.
“Charles Gustavus Wicker” by Nancy Deborah Wicker-Eilan
1425 N. Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
“Charles Gustavus Wicker” just might be the only sculpture ready to work in Chicago. The bronze sculpture, created by Wicker’s great-granddaughter Nancy Deborah Wicker-Elian, is of one of Chicago’s earliest aldermen. Broom in hand, the sculpture is poised to clean the wooden floor underneath him as, according to the Chicago Park District, the alderman was always ready to do whatever it took to get the job done. Located in Wicker Park and installed in 2006, the statue might make passersby pause with its Abraham Lincoln-like stovepipe hat.
Chicago Public Art Group
Various locations throughout Chicago
Have you ever driven by a mural in Chicago and wonder who painted it? There’s a chance it may have been created by the Chicago Public Art Group (CPAG). Established in 1971, the group has created murals, mosaics and other forms of artwork throughout Chicago. Proving that art isn’t confined to galleries, CPAG’s work can be found on El stations, gardens, building walls, underpasses, schools and benches. Thought-provoking and colorful, the art is a collaborative effort between the community and artists. Some of the group’s murals include “Memorial Wall” (1521 South Wabash Avenue) and “Fabric of Our Lives” (3003 West Touhy Avenue). While the group is focused on creating artwork in public spaces in Chicago, it has murals on display as far as Fort Sheridan, Lemont and Chicago Heights.
Related: Ornate Underpass Murals
“Floor Clock II” by Vito Acconci
Ogden Plaza Park
429 N. Columbus Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
While it might be true that a broken clock is still right twice a day, what about a clock that doesn’t have any arms? “Floor Clock II,” located at Ogden Plaza Park, is a conundrum unto itself. Installed in the park in 1992, it once had hands that moved. However, the hands are now missing and what’s left is a clock that doesn’t tell time. Visitors to the sight can still sit on the oversized granite numbers on the plaza.
“Man with Fish” by Stephan Balkenhol
1200 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
It’s only fitting that the Shedd Aquarium features a man holding a fish. Located near the aquarium’s ground-floor entrance on the southwest side of the building, German sculptor Stephan Balkenhol’s “Man with Fish” stands 16 feet tall and features a man holding a fish that bubbles water out of its mouth while standing in the middle of a shallow pond. The sculpture raises such deep philosophical questions as “Is it possible for a man to hold a fish that’s about his size?” It’s definitely an eye-catching sight and is perfect for group meetings on the museum campus.
Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park
East side of McCormick Blvd. between Dempster St. and Touhy Ave.
Skokie, IL 60076
Why see just one sculpture when you can see more than 60 at once? At the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park, visitors can see large-scale contemporary sculptures located along a two-mile stretch of land while winding along a trail. The park includes sculptures by numerous artists including students from Niles North, Niles West and Evanston Township high schools. Andrew MacGuffie’s “Municipal Water Carrier” is also currently on display at the park.