CHICAGO (CBS) — Democratic politics are responsible for the colorful history of the Bridgeport neighborhood, but on Friday afternoon, a prominent Republican politician will be in the spotlight.
Visitors on Friday to the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th St., will be greeted by a giant metal sculpture of Sarah Palin’s head, and the wide open mouth on the sculpture isn’t just intended to suggest Palin’s expression at her most indignant.
The sculpture, called “We’re Havin’ a Tea Pear-ody,” doubles as a working stove, and at 5 p.m. Friday, it will cook a whole suckling pig, which will be roasted right in the mouth. The smoke from the roasting process will billow from the sculpture’s head, which is adorned with hair ratted up in a high bun just like the real Palin.
The roast is part of the celebration of the opening of the Bridgeport Sculpture Garden, adjacent to the sprawling arts center in the former Spiegel Catalog Warehouse.
The artist, J. Taylor Wallace of the Ukrainian Village neighborhood, unveiled his Palin sculpture last year at the National Ornamental Museum in Memphis. The sculpture also cooked a pear-stuffed suckling pig for that occasion.
Photos of the event show the sculpture’s eyes glowing and a fire raging in its mouth as the stove is pressed into action.
“We’re Havin’ a Tea Pear-ody” has been on tour for the past several months. The real Sarah Palin has been invited to every exhibition of the sculpture, but the so far, she hasn’t shown up, according to the arts center.
This is not the first eye-catching image of the former Alaska governor that has made headlines in Chicago, and the other famous local image isn’t exactly a reverent portrait either.
The Old Town Ale House, 219 W. North Ave., features a full-frontal nude portrait of Palin, holding an assault rifle in her right hand and standing on top of a polar bear carcass.
It is one of several often-explicit paintings at the Ale House by artist Bruce Elliott, whose wife owns the bar. Among the others shows Rod Blagojevich naked from the back except for the pants from an orange prison jumpsuit at his ankles, as correctional guards prepare to conduct a strip search.
The Palin portrait at the Old Town Ale House made local headlines about a month after John McCain nominated her as his running mate in the 2008 presidential race.
At the Bridgeport Art Center, the Palin stove sculpture will share its debut with 40 artists who have studios inside the Bridgeport Arts Center. They “Artists of the Eastbank,” as they are known, will hold demonstrations on their many creative media, from painting and sculpture to jewelry and custom furniture design, and from ceramics to paste painting.