public art

It’s The Bean’s World

You have eight hours of free time in Chicago — two hours one evening, six the next day. For once you get to see more than the inside of O’Hare International. You think you will not visit The Bean. There are so many other things to see before the rains come. Well okay, maybe you will just walk by at a distance and see the crowds and be glad you are skipping The Bean, at least this time. What is The Bean anyway? Is it art, or already a commodity? Warhol might have painted The Bean, but this is 2017, right? Will you have trouble sleeping after consuming a legume of this size?

And yet, something happens — you are pulled, your brain waves curve and flatten and bulge like reflections in The Bean — and you go to there. You go to The Bean. It’s all right, everything will be all right. Surrender to The Bean. It’s The Bean’s world; we only live in it.

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the apple press sculpture in golden gate park

Today I’m sharing a reblog of a recent piece in Heath Massey’s blog, “Golden Gate Park: Views from the Thicket.”  I love the fascinating history and lovely original drawings that Heath includes in her entries. And … I look forward to her upcoming talk, “Artists in Golden Gate Park,” at Canessa Gallery, Wednesday September 24, 7 p.m. The gallery is at 708 Montgomery Street in San Francisco, steps away from the Transamerica Pyramid building. My show “Welcome to Fogland” will be open for viewing for an hour before the talk. Stop by for some treats, some sparkling … yes … cider! … and Heath’s wonderful talk.

golden gate park: views from the thicket

Apple cider press statue in Golden Gate Park by Thomas Shields-Clarke, 1892 (sketch by Heath Massey) Apple cider press statue in Golden Gate Park by Thomas Shields-Clarke, 1892 (sketch by Heath Massey)

For some reason I always assumed this sculpture was about wine.  That muscled, bare-footed figure evokes for me a beautiful Greek god (Dionysus, Greek god of wine?).  Even on a typical foggy day in the park, he conjures a warm day in late summer, the grape harvest, abandonment to the pleasures of the vine.   Wrong!   Those are actually apples scattered around the base of the sculpture, which actually depicts a cider press.  Perhaps that’s because the sculptor, Thomas Shields-Clarke was from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where apples are no doubt much more common than grapes, especially in 1892 when this statue was made?  It was cast in Paris though, (by Jaboeuf and Bezout) so maybe that’s where it picked up the whiff of wine?  In any case, Michael de Young and the Midwinter Fair Commission purchased it and exhibited…

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