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Added Oct 31 2011

I live on the 1800 block of North Burling. I am appalled by the hideous blue windmill looking sculpture that was just installed at the southwest corner of Burling and Armitage. I understand that the sculpture was installed on private property, but it is so large that it hangs over the sidewalk. The community should have been informed and involved in the decision to approve or not approve of this sculpture. Legally is there anything that can be done to take this sculpture down?

  • Art

    It looks like it might be a John Henry sculpture. You might have grounds for a complaint if the sculpture actually takes up air rights over the sidewalk but the homeowner might be able to get around that one by obtaining a public way use license - much like an awning that hangs over a sidewalk. You might have no recourse except to try to learn to appreciate it.

  • Jerry Powell Active Resident

    A photo would be great. Of course I know the area well but I do not recall seeing it.

  • Ann

    just went up on Friday, I believe. You can't miss it

  • Taste, unfortunately, is subjective. Probably the most you could hope to achieve is to have it moved so that it does not encroach. Try calling the aldermanz office.

  • I have called the alderman's office and I know many of my neighbors have called as well.

  • Steve 40 years in Lincoln Park

    Yes, I've seen it, and it's overpowering. It needs to be someplace else where there's more space.

  • I have pictures to post, but can't figure out how to post them to this discussion. From what I can tell, you can only post pictures to a new discussion. Is this correct? Please advise if you know how I can post pictures to this discussion. Thank you.

  • EveryBlock Becca Director of Community Management

    You're correct, Willjam. Feel free to e-mail the pictures to me and I'll try to post them for you. I'm at

  • Willjam,
    I too have pictures. But I have an additional problem: I cant even start a new discussion. I get a error message to the effect that Ive left out some information, although there are no boxes that could be filled in. I cant even send feedback in search of help. I would be great to be able to add pictures to a discussion.

  • A.K. Chicago Native, City Blogger, Dog Devotee

    I saw this monstrosity yesterday while leaving Oz and was shocked on how out-of-place it looks! Its so random, it definitely doesnt fit in with the neighborhood. Is that a private residence or a business?

  • Great video, Louis. While I love the architectural detail of the home, I still think the sculpture is way too much. I want to make sure the home owner received the correct permits to install this sculpture and that the community was properly notified.

  • Jerry Powell Active Resident

    While I can appreciate the artful nature of the sculpture, it is HIDEOUS! It does not fit the neighborhood and looks ridiculous on the lot. Period. I am at LPW and Webster, so I'm thankful I do not live in an area where I will see it every day, from my home. Best of luck neighbors!

  • There is a life safety issue. NOTHING is allowed to hang over a public way. There are public way usage ordinances that are very strict. As the owner is in contraction, he is aware of this. There are i-beams hanging over Burling and Armitage. If there is any structural failure it would kill someone if they fell. With our children and the children form the school walking on that busy corner, the integrity needs to be assured.

    Therefor, we need an answer immediately if it was properly permitted, installed and zoned. There needs to be proof that a city inspector came out and approved installation and no more construction is happening on the site as that would also be cause for structural fatigue and possible failure.

    Lastly, if ANY construction site had steel hanging over the street and wasn't properly approved, the site would be ticketed and shut down and the piece immediately dismantled. Wh does the alderman's office not have an answer on this? The City is at fault for not addressing this more expeditiously.

  • Actually plenty of things hang over the sidewalk. Many awnings do, and if you look you will see many buildings have overhanging bay windows, etc. I doubt that the owners did this without the appropriate permits, but you welcome to pursue it.

  • Steve J -A Chicago original since 1968-

    this guy has more money than us. that's why it's there.

    he'll gladly pay the paltry fines from the city no doubt.

  • Elsie neighbor

    Enormous indeed. And hideous! That this owner (Novak Construction whose name is plastered across the side of the building?) would install this ugly monstrosity without getting his neighbors' approval is appalling! While some approval might have been given by the city, I doubt it was for what has actually been installed. It's hard to believe anyone from the city would approve this; there's going to be an accident on Armitage from everyone stopping and gawking at it!

  • Yes, many things hang over the sidewalk and that is my point. Those which do are approved by the City and fined if they are not. The reason for this is life safety, and to make sure the City doesn't look awful with people putting up whatever they wish. Both reasons seem to apply to this situation.

    I think it more distressing that our alderman is unable to verify if a potentially dangerous structure has been permitted and installed with CIty approval.

  • d3 NOH

    i could be wrong but i could swear the public use permit is renewed on an annual basis as well..

    the alderman is unable to verify that there's a permit? that seems impossible. it would have to be posted on site to begin with, no?

  • From what I understand, Alderman Michele Smith did not provide approval for this sculpture. The owner is claiming to have received approval from the previous alderman, Vi Daley. Alderman Michele Smith's office is trying to figure out if the proper approval was gained from Alderman Vi Daley and if the nearby homes were notified. I have a friend that lives within doors of the sculpture, and he does not recall having been notified.

  • This is ridiculous. There are tons of steel hanging over a public way and no one in the alderman's office knows if it is approved or safe?!?!?!?!!!!!!!! What is going on at that office?

  • Art

    Keep in mind that the city zoning laws do not have many restrictions at all. Someone could build a log cabin next door to you if it met all code requirements and there is not a thing you could do about it. However, you do need public way permits to have planters (even parkway planters) awnings and signs that hand over the sidewalks and parkways. The alderman must sign each permit request, it is approved by a board committee and then the entire city council. There is usually an annual fee that must be paid and the permits must be renewed every 5 years. At the same time, give the guy a little break. He is an art lover and, from the video, he has a John Henry outside and a Matisse inside.

  • Just a point of clarification - the building on the property is not a residence. It houses a construction company.

  • Jerry Powell Active Resident

    Coincidentally, a lifelong friend of mine worked on the construction of that property. I believe it is in fact a private residence. I know there has been some talk of how "eccentric" let's call it, the owner is. Just emailed him for more info as he is familiar with the entire project.

  • Art

    See the video above - looks like a private residence. Also, a requirement of the public use permit is that you carry insurance and include the city of chicago as an additional insured.

  • Herez and idea. Move the windmill inside and the Matisse outside.

  • Pete F. Lifelong Chicagoan, Proud Democrat

    Stop trying to make this a safety issue, when in actuality it is a taste issue. A valid one, at that. It does seem totally out of character with the neighborhood, and I could see people being upset if this were put up on their block without due consideration.

    But to claim you only care because you're worried about a beam smooshing you seems a little disingenuous.

    I personally like the sculpture, but it certainly doesn't belong at that location.

  • Jerry Powell Active Resident

    Liza - it is in fact a private residence. Novak signage is only present because they are the GC on the project. The home itself is amazing, but I am shocked that a homeowner would install such a fixture without speaking to neighboring residents first. It simply must come down.

    Has anyone tried contacting any of the local network newsrooms? My father is a news executive with ABC and I assure you they are seeking pieces like this all the time. You may get some real traction on the story.

  • It is actually about the safety. Although the piece does not fit at the installation site, if it's permitted it is legal. I think complaining about someone else's taste is sophomoric. There are homes on the street that are more aesthetically displeasing than that sculpture. He has the right to do what he wants to do on his property, as do you. He has shown a blatant disrespect for the neighbors but he is free to do that.

    As a collector of large scale steel art my concern is that the piece was not approved by an engineer nor installed properly. As should be your concern as well.

    It is a disgrace that a structure weighing several tons is hanging over a public way and the neighbors are only speaking about aesthetics and the alderman can't get an answer in one call to the building dept if that structure was permitted and installed properly. I think a City Inspector should have been on site day one checking the entire site and if there isn't a permit is should be ticketed and removed. like any other conatrucion site violating code!

    As for those of you wanting it removed for aesthetics, I would suggest contacting the alderman and building dept and make sure it is up to code!!!!

    I called and the aldermans office still has no answer regarding a life safety issue. That is a disgrace.

  • What is the address and who is the owner?

  • I believe the address is 1968 N. Burling Street.

  • I just heard back from Alderman Michele Smith's office. They are currently having the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection send out an investigator on the public right of way issue. They are also having the Department of Housing and Economic Development see how this sculpture was approved. Since it appears that it was approved a couple of years ago they have to pull their files and that takes a couple of days.

  • A neighbor brought to my attention a good point today. She's concerned about icicles forming at the base of the beams that jet out over the sidewalk. The beams being as long as they are, I can see some very large icicles hanging over the heads of people walking on the sidewalk. Valid point. Right?

  • I agree that the winter will add more hazard to the overhang of the Blue Monster. A earlier post seemed to minimize the issue of the overhang. I raised it initially as a factor that might help to get that atrocity out of there.

  • I heard there's going to be some type of coverage about the enormous blue sculpture on ABC 7 news tonight at 6 PM. I didn't personally call ABC, so I'm not sure what aspect of the story they plan to report on. I plan to tune in!

  • Jerry Powell Active Resident

    From what I understand it is scheduled for air at 6 but will be a first pulled if need be. Fingers crossed it airs.

  • 27 years on Burling and this takes the cake. If only Brother's Beef would put up a flashing neon hot dog, we could become a Chicago attraction. This is a matter of both safety and appropriateness and it certainly doesn't have anything to do with OZ. Perhaps it's purpose is to attract UFO's. Sure hope the guy doesn't light it up for the holiday's, but it will probably be lit from below. Clearly something Vi would have approved. I'm sure that Michcle Smith
    would have held a community meeting about this, way before it went up. It clearly belongs in a plaza or large space in front of some corporate office. Hopefully something can be done about Big Blue and it looks like many concerned people are working on this.

  • A.K. Chicago Native, City Blogger, Dog Devotee

    Just watched it on Channel 7! Nothing new that hasn't been posted here, but they did show a clip of the posts on this board :)

  • Chuck Goudie is wrong. It does hang over the sidewalk!

  • I was just interviewed by MIke Parker of CBS Chicago news. He said he's going to try to air our story at 10 PM tonight. I'm a bit under the weather, so I did a lot of ums and ahs during the interview. Hopefully it will sound okay during editing.

  • Wow. I was just interviewed by Alex Perez of NBC Chicago news. He too is going to try to get the story on the 10 PM news. Hopefully with all of this coverage we're going to finally get some answers.

  • ME

    I think it is amazing and I thank you homeowner for sharing such a wonderful piece of art every day to our community. John Henry is wonderful artist and native of Chicago and to have this as part of our community is appreciated by me and so many of my friends in the area that appreciate fine art. I support this and I support the Arts and there is NO hazards come one really??????

  • Inactive user

    I think it's sad that we got an amazing piece of art in the neighborhood from a world-renowned artist, and people blindly make assumptions about its safety and engineering. Fine, if you're so narrow-minded as to just hate it outright from your personal tastes, but to suggest things like an engineer wasn't consulted just comes from a place of ignorance. This artist has produced work (safely) all over the world, always working with qualified engineers to make sure the work is safe. Again, you can argue taste, but your safety concerns come from a place of ignorance.

  • Elsie neighbor

    LocalMan, taste in art is highly personal and subjective. I resent the fact that Mr. Novak's taste in art is being shoved down my throat. Check out John Henry's website. His pieces are meant for wide-open, public spaces, not the front yard of a private residence. People go to see his sculptures if they choose to - they walk under them if they choose to. We neighbors aren't being given a choice. I think it's completely fair to say the community should have had some say in the matter and for us to question whether all the proper channels were followed.

  • John Henry has been producing the same
    Go nowhere pieces for 20+ years. There might as well be a Leroy Neiman painting on the wall. It's nothing new or interesting. He is not David Smith, Anthony Caro, Marc DeSuvero or Richard Sera. His pieces are more of the same
    And not
    Really anything people wish to look at, as evidenced by this reaction. So please don't take the art line. As a collector of large scale
    Steel work for almost 30 years, I can safely
    Argue that the owner has not added to the neighborhood with that piece. I am sure John is not pleased that his piece was squeezed onto an undersized lot and half covered by a brick wall. Large scale work is for large areas so they can be seen. Sadly the owner has made
    Johns work look awful and has tarnished the artists reputation.

    Of course my concern is with permitting and safety. There is no property in the city allowed to hang a small sign over the city and to ask if such a piece was Permitted, engineered and installed safely is not narrow minded but logical. His piece was never intended to hang over hoards of school children. Additionally, since the owner showed such a lack of judgement to put that piece there, one would assume he used the same poor judgement in installation.

    I am aware of the Novack HQ next to the expressway which is always dressed like a circus for each holiday. It is simply poor taste that he assumed his neighbors would care to look at the circus side show he created. It gives a bad name to the modern art world.

    So since he is able to flash his garish taste, I would like to know the city has inspected it before my children walk under it.

  • Inactive user

    Barker, as someone familiar with his work, you certainly know this piece was fully engineered. An artist as big as Henry doesn't fool around with his liability like that. So the real issue is that of taste, not of safety. Sure, go ahead and ask, but that's not the real issue here, and a lot of assumptions are being made on this blog that you well know are untrue about the engineering of the work.

    Also, Barker, as someone knowledgable about the history of large metal art, you know the Eiffel Tower effect: first everyone says it's terrible, remove it, it's an eyesore. Then people tolerate it. Then it becomes a welcome icon. Then if you try to remove it, there's massive protests to save it. There's a long history of that with work like this. Just watch... if it's left to stay, the same will happen with this piece, I promise you.

  • Most artists would insist that their works are properly and appropriately installed and displayed. It is impossible to conclude that Henry, if he is supposed to be world renowned, could possibly approve of that location, in that neighborhood, under those circumstances.
    Since I was the one who gave the owner the cop out about taste, I want to make it clear that all of the works I have seen online just look like a bunch of sticks. Reminds me of the ancient game of "pick up sticks." It is totally lacking in creativity and substance.
    But that should not deflect from the real issue: is it dangerous? Was it properly vetted by the city?
    There are many mac-mansions on that street. Maybe the well heeled down the street will have some influence, they shouldnt be influenced by the purported "world renowned" status.

  • Inactive user

    This word, "impossible," I do no not think you know the meaning of this word. ;)

  • Steve J -A Chicago original since 1968-

    This homeowner has WAY more money than anyone on this thread.

    The wealthy get to do whatever they want. This homeowner could probably slap a kitten square in the face and no one could stop them.

  • The Eiffel tower was erected for the world's fair as an engineering masterpiece. It was designed to show the forward thinking and advanced engineering ability of France and Europe as a whole. Not something I would use as a comparison to the piece.

    Mr Henry was selected for a few public pieces in the 80's and his work remained the same, and his request for Chicago public pieces waned along with Jerry Peart and VIrginio Ferrari. Mr. Henry is not considered an icon, evidenced by the fact he wasn't even considered for Millenium park.

    I am, obviously, an enormous supporter of the arts and public art. I appreciate the owner wishing to add a public piece to the neighborhood. I would be thrilled were it a piece which caused controversy as something new and exciting, much as the Eiffel Tower did. But to take an oversized piece meant for a much larger space, shove it on to a property where it cannot even be fully appreciated and insist that the neighbors assume it is a masterpiece and safely installed in just lack of judgement.

  • This is where the modern art world gets a bad image. This piece was not a site specific design which incorporates the artists image of what belongs on that space. This is not something thought out or even something new. It's an old, played out piece that the owner got his hands on and shoved it on a undersized lot. The fact the John Henry had anything to do with it even being allowed on that site shows the desperation for PR of the artist.

    This isn't Geary designing a garage, or SOM accenting with a structural detail. Anish Kapoor didn't take the site into consideration and create an oversized site specific piece. This is a piece that was haphazardly squeezed onto the site. My assumption is the owner had nowhere else to put it.

    I admire the details of the house. I think such touches as the phases of the moon on the balcony steel are lovely. It is a shame that the taste was over run by this lapse of judgement. I also feel for the owner that trying to make a statement has left a bad taste in the neighbours mouths. We all live together and making a statement with such poor taste and expect us all to just get used to it is undignified and down right unneighbourly. He obviously feels this is the way to get attention and be involved in an affluent area and he is sorely mistaken. It is best to lower your head, remove the piece and bow out gracefully. It would be the right thing to do.

  • Lastly, if you want to argue safety, please reference the history of our beloved Calder down town. There is a pendulum which has been missing for decades due to a public safety hazard. I assure you Calder was trusted more than an unknown neighbor and even he made a mistake with public life safety.

    More currently, as you fancy yourself a lover of art, SURELY you are aware of the catastrophic incidents with Richard Sera's pieces. With people actually being KILLED at his installations, PUBLIC INSTALLATIONS, one is prudent to have pause and question the structural integrity of such a piece by a private collector. I am happy to list a host of other rather unfortunate mishaps from public art is you wish, as there are so very many.

    This is not a joke and not a statement. The owner is welcome to do as he wishes behind the confines of his home and bedroom doors. But one would ask they have the decorum to not expose the rest of the nieghbourhood to their poor taste. The community asks that they reserve their personal kinks for their own home.

    As a collector, I do not recall ever seeing the Novack family as a member of the art community. This is not Saatchi providing a Damien a place to shock the nation. This is not an important piece of anything new that is making a statement, again, like your Eiffel. This is simply a brash and silly move.

  • I think the community has respectively voiced their desires and concerns. They keep their private lives private and ask that the owners do so, as well. We are all living together and enjoy our space and having one owner show such blatant disrespect in unnerving and rather uncomfortable for the lot of us.

    Although it seems the piece was permitted and the owner has the right to have it there, we also have the right to raise our families and return home to the places we have worked hard to have and cherish raising our families in and not be have to be constantly reminded of someones brash choice. It's just wrong and not the decent thing to do.

  • Inactive user

    And here I thought you, Barker, were a fan of art history. I said the "Eiffel Tower effect," I did not compare this piece directly to the Eiffel Tower. There's a difference. As for Serra, you need to bone up on your facts. The guy killed by Seera's piece was a worker INSTALLING a piece, not some innocent viewer of the work. Everyone knows swinging a multi-ton work into place is much more dangerous than it just sitting there. So please stop throwing more misinformation into the mix here. Thanks.

  • In addition to the street views of Big Blue , the aerial views, as shown on the news stations are simply unbelievable. This huge piece of ? is so out of place, whether you like it or not. Big Blue certainly gives the neighbors on Burling something else to gawk at besides the huge ostentacious palaces, villa's, bank and mausoleum-like structures that have come our way. This used to be a really nice block to live on.

  • Art

    I actually like the piece. Your gripe should not be with the home owner - he should be able to do anything that he wants on his property that is not illegal. Indeed, he or she appears to be an art lover and has decided to build a home where his or her art can be displayed - including in the front yard. Your gripe should be with the city for having construction and zoning codes that are so lax that one can build a home or have art in ones yard that is out of character with the neighborhood. As I said earlier, the owner could have built a log cabin on the property and it would be fine as long at it met all building codes.

    What we have here is a dispute over taste and size. NIBY (not in my back yard). It does not matter the artist - if it were a large red Calder people would still be up in arms - some would like it some would not. I agree that the piece is too large for the location - it would not have merited any comments if it were say 10 feet tall. That being said, if the owner has all the proper licenses and approvals, then there is nothing to do except try to convince him or her that as a "good neighbor" you would like him or her to remove the piece and replace it with a smaller one.

    I don't buy the art kills argument. The world (and Chicago) is full of large public sculptures that are accessible to the public and that are safe. Houses also occasionally collapse and kill people or start on fire - yet we still build them.

    Bottom line - there are much more important things to worry about in this world. The piece lies on his or her property and he or she can do and put whatever they want on it - that is not illegal.

    My vote - I like the piece but not in the current space - but I think the owner has the absolute right to put it in his or her yard.

  • Art

    Barker - "blatant disrespect"? Since when does the neighborhood get to dictate what happens on someone's private property? So the owner needs neighborhood approval first? If I paint my house pink and the neighborhood does not like it - then that is "blatant disrespect" and I have to change the color? I think not.

    If no laws or codes are being broken - then more power to the owner. But, he or she might not have any neighbors bringing cakes when he or she moves in.

  • Not just once, but TWICE with Richard Serra. There was one death at one public installation and another where several installers were pinned and severely injured in a gallery under the best of conidtions. This is Serra and a professional set crew. Not Mr. Novack. I am absolutely aware it was during installation. That is EXACTLY my point. Was this piece installed properly?

    Or shall we reference Cristo and Jean-Claude's Umbrella installation in California? Surely one would think those pieces were installed properly with the decades of enormous public art they have created and installed. Yet, to your point, after installation an umbrella joint failed killing a viewer. The list of accidents and death by noted artist is limitless. Pieces of the size of that John Henry are meant for larger, open space. Approved by committee and a process of insuring upkeep. Is Mr Novack going to have an upkeep schedule to insure every joint is in proper condition for the life of that sculpture to assure public safety? If not, just one joint failure cold be lethal as the piece has been placed on a lot far too small allowing it to overhang a public way. It is just plain silly and poorly thought out.

    And, no, no one thought the pendulum would kill someone. It was "engineered" to be safe. Just as you are attesting to. It was engineered by the City and approved. After a committee and the City approved it, it was shown to be unsafe.

    There is nothing new about John Henry's piece. NOTHING. Please take a public poll and ask any resident where another one of his pieces are. When I mention the yellow piece on Congress, they kind of remember. He has not made a statement after decades of public work. And the only one he is making now is that he has sold out. He knows fully well that piece does not belong there.

  • As far as the Eiffel tower effect, it references the Eiffel tower! The people of Paris thought it garish and learned to adore it as their own engineering masterpiece. Please do not liken the blue piece to a history changing icon which represents change and future which the residents will eventually embrace. It is rather egotistical of the owner to assume they are responsible for iconic installations for an entire city neighborhood.

    For this reason there is a committee for public art. A committee I believe neither Mr Novack, nor Mr Henry sits, not has ever sat. So please stop arguing your point. The piece is selfish, garish, egomaniacal, poorly placed, dated and possibly dangerous.

    I will happily guide Mr Novack to reputable public art consultants to acquire a more suitable piece to make a statement on that site.

    For now, I recommend he sticks with his illuminated Santa Sleighs and winter scenes on his office building. That seems to be his level of taste for public art display.

  • Furthermore, if Mr Novack needs a place to retire that piece, I recommend him contacting Governors State University. Although I don't think they would allow that piece to be added to their amazing collection, perhaps they could find a more suitable home for it.

  • I just wanted to say that the huge new sculpture at Burling & Armitage belongs in a public park, museum, school campus, or company headquarters, not in the tiny yard of a small house in a quiet residential neighborhood. Whoever owns that sculpture either didn't realize how big it was, or purposely wants to be the center of attention.

    Aside from being visually obnoxious, the sculpture is a potential safety hazard. What if there's a snow storm, the sculpture accumulates ice/snow, and then wind or thawing causes chunks of ice to fly off and fall on somebody's head? Or what if a wind storm tips it onto the sidewalk?

    Also, there is a high school right across the street. What if some kids decide to try and climb on it, and get hurt?

    If there isn't a rule about sculptures in terms of the ratio between the size of the sculpture and the yard, there should be. For instance, it would make sense to require that there be enough room around a sculpture for it to fall down and still be on the owner's property, to ensure that the public is not potentially harmed or encroached upon.

    The homeowner should do the right thing and donate this sculpture to one of Chicago's parks or a Museum where people can actually appreciate it (you can't even see it properly with that wall in the way), and it isn't an eyesore for those of us who live around and near it. I like modern art, I just don't want it shoved in my face every single day.

  • Actually, there used to be a pink house in the neighborhood, maybe on Larrabe, but oddly enough it totally fit into the elcectic
    architecture on that street and was a similar size to the other properties on the block. There are also a number of old victorian "painted ladies" scattered around, but size-wise they fit into the neighborhood as well. Personally, I would have installed a much smaller piece and left it in it's natural iron or steel color in order to match the house, but I don't like the brick work either. This guy could've uses stone, stucco or even granite and it would've gone better with the house, with it's leaded copper details. That massive brick wall lining that long stretch of Armitage looks terrible, but to each their own. This guy could've afforded a much larger lot elsewhere, instead of the streetside lot, which may in fact be zoned for business or residential. The sculpture is obviously an advertisement for his business and it certainly is getting losts of attention.

  • Art, "blatant disrespect" does not reference legal or zoning issues. They may do as they wish but is shows no respect for those who must experience it every day. Yes, of course you may paint your house pink. You may also scream at the top of your lungs or raise chickens in your yard. That is your right. Do what you want. But one would hope that you would exercise decorum and take into thought that the rest of us live there and may not wish to experience that every day of our lives.

    Again, keep your personal life personal. I am aware of much more significant pieces in homes within 100 yards of that site. They choose to keep their personal taste in art personal.

    This is our home. Where we raise our children. It is disrespectful and tasteless for someone to shove this down our throats. I am 7th generation art collector. I have a degree in art, large scale steel work!, from one of the most reputable art schools in the world. I love the idea of changing things up and being daring. Pushing the public opinion. That is what art is. The blue piece is not that. It is just an oversized, site inappropriate piece. He made a mistake. Take it down.

    At this point the owner has the ability to show his character. It is obviously a poor choice. This is not an importnat piece, nor is it anything new or meant for that site. He can either stand by his guns or do the neighbouly thing and have it relocated to a more suitable location.

  • I've lived in my home for nine years. In year eight the iron hand rail leading up to my front door split at a welding joint. Just a month ago my iron hand rail split again at a different joint. I'm very good about having my iron rails painted every year so that they don't rust, but my iron rails still split on me twice. I had to call out a welding company days before Halloween so that trick-or-treaters wouldn't fall off my stairs because my iron rails were broken. So, my experience tells me that this John Henry piece can deteriorate over time. Since the sculpture beams are hanging over our heads on the sidewalk, the community does have a safety argument. Did Vi Daley really approve for these iron beams to hang over our heads on the sidewalk? Can't wait to see what that permit says.

  • d3 NOH

    Regardless of stance on the sculpture, your experience of household grade iron rails seems somewhat irrelevant if you ask me. Not the same material, not the same quality of material. There are 100s of these statues and I think it would be fairly easy to research if they were deteriorating instead of trying to compare your floppy home rails to it. Many of these have been in place since the 70's. By your logic, the Daley Center could collapse any day now. It's a real stretch.

  • Jerry Powell Active Resident

    It seems this thread has turned into a forum frequently used to insult the homeowner and his tastes. I think the argument for relocation of the sculpture can be successfully made without need for an attack on his character and artistic appetite. I do not know the man, and I would venture none of you do either. He may very well be a wonderful personality and lover of the arts, erecting such a work on his property thinking it would be heralded as an amazing addition to the neighborhood. Alas, I may also be defending a tyrant. As I said, I do not know the homeowner.

    The simple fact of the matter is this. The sculpture is too large for its location. It dominates the view for all who live near this new residence. Such work should be on display in parks and plazas where they can be viewed from far, unobstructed by walls and other visual noise.

    I do not think the homeowner chose to do this in an attempt to outrage his future neighbors. That said, were I in his shoes, I would have personally appeared, immediately, and provided proof of the structural safety and proper permitting. That would have led to talks with neighborhood residents. With his daughter now speaking publicly, he has now distanced himself a bit too much.

  • Speaking of "barker" ing, something that bothers many of us on a daily basis is all these people with dogs, especially those little dogs that "yip" constantly and their owners who leave them outside for hours daily, while they're dining, or otherwise don't want the interruption. Or perhaps the "help" put's them out while they're cleaning. It's especially bad during warmer weather and in the alley-less area, backing onto the block's of Burling & Orchard.
    Unfortunately, the most quiet time around here, is when our windows are closed in the winter and the worst of summer.

  • Inactive user

    Barker, more red herrings. Houses collapse, burn, etc, even after proper permitting, yet we still build them. Trees fall, and branches fall. Icicles form way high up in the branches and fall. Will you next ask that all homeowners with trees cut them down for safety reasons? Stick to the actual issue here: you're just not a fan of Henry's work. Fine. Just stop creating red herrings.

  • d3 NOH

    I don't think it's that people aren't a fans of his work, I think it's an issue of scale relative to its surroundings for the particular piece. The real interesting question to have answered is would Henry himself approve of this placement?

  • I don't know the owner, but I wouldn't "assume" that the owner isn't making a negative statement to area residents. or the ward.

  • It has nothing to do with John Henry. This is a large piece that doen't belong on a small city lot.

    To the point that houses collapse, absolutely. They are also required to go through the dept of building and be permitted and inspected. That is all I have asked from the beginning. My only concern is life safety. The owner has the right to do as he wishes on his property. Good taste or otherwise. I just want it to be safe.

    I would also like to respond to the post about the owner. One wold think he would have shown the permit and responded to the neighbors.

  • Inactive user

    I love it that this piece has inspired regular people to discuss art proportion, placement, context. So far, I think it's doing what art should do. ;)

  • I could agree with LocalMan if the discussions had taken place before the damage was done, making rectifying the disaster extremely difficult, alienating a lot of people and possibly endangering the safety of citizens passing by. Art should not divide people, it should unite them with timely, reasonable debate.

  • I live close to the new piece of art. I was never notified that such a structure was going to be placed there and would have clearly objected if i had known. Regardless of what it looks like, it is clearly out of place in a residential neighborhood. It's a 50 foot high piece of blue metal protruding over the sidewalk !

    I can only assume given that the owner, Mr. Novak is a large connected developer here in Chicago, that it was business as usual under the old Daley regime and he was quickly granted whatever he desired.

    One can only hope that Rahm and Michelle Smith will do the right thing and rid one of the nicest neighborhoods left in Chicago of this public nuisance ! I would bet the house that if this thing appeared next to Rahms house it would be down by now.

  • Inactive user

    Disaster? Really? Let's drop the hyperbole, let's drop the false safety claims. The permitting and engineering will be, shortly, reviewed to the most minute detail. All the b!tching and moaning will assure that much. You'll know it's more than safe soon enough. So, how about just discussing this on its aesthetic merits alone. It's new, it's big, it's blue. People are scared of the new. I get it. But give it some time, live with it a bit. There's no "art rule" that says big pieces need lots of air around them. Anish Kapoor is doing a piece for a development in Manhattan that is literally squished under the entry awning. Sometimes "big" in a tight space is interesting and dynamic. Give it some time to breath. This isn't the end of the 'hood. Hell, that happened when the McMansions started popping up. At least this is unique and interesting, and spawns discussion. A "disaster" is a hurricane breaking levees and drowning a city. A "disaster" is a bridge collapsing. This is just a big blue sculpture. Ease up a little, people, let some time pass, let your blood pressure drop. Go ahead and ask if it was engineered and permitted (it was), then relax a bit. It's not the end of the world, it's just a big blue thing. Heck, it's better than a cell phone tower or billboard, and certainly better than all those McMansions.

  • First of all, "aesthetics alone" is not a viable consideration. There is no profit in restating all the other objections raised here.
    But in addition to questionable taste, your persistent personal attacks on those making posts here are endemic to one who is out of ammunition. So, fine if you like this thing. But stop the ad hominem attacks on the judgment, taste and discernment of others.

  • Sounds like you're in the business of complaining. It's kind of sad when I encounter people like that. Somebody is tampering with the appearance of your neighborhood. You're frightened of change. You need to create a battle because your delusional mind requires conflict. You're energy could be spent elsewhere on issues that actually matter.

  • Inactive user

    Who has made personal attacks? Please quote. The only personal attacks I've seen here are towards the homeowner in question. Accusing people of attacks without specifying what you feel is an attack is an attack in itself. I've merely stated that this is primarily a discussion of aesthetics, and should be treated as such. Please back up your claims if they were addressed towards me, ozlock. Thank you.

  • Thanks for the free psychoanalysis, we all needed that...but after all, you get what you pay for

  • Please refrain from comparing that piece and John Henry to Anish Kapoor. If we had a thought provoking, current piece none of this discussion would be happening. We have been forced to choke down dated, misplaced art. What's next? A Nagle print? If the owner loves it so much tell them to put it in their bedroom. We don't care to see it. PLEASE!, go get an amazing, thought provoking piece. Make a statement. Do something wonderful if you're going to put yourself out there. This is just senseless.

    Our personal collection of large pieces are on our private country property for us to enjoy. We respect that not everyone shares our taste. A novel thought, no? Key word, respect.

    What a terrible way to enter a neighborhood. Brash. Just awful BUT, as I was taught, no one is completely useless. They can always be used as a bad example. This atrocity has been a learning lesson to my children about classless people and rude behaviour. Even the youngest of children that visit are astonished by the grotesqueness of the gesture. If the owners are reading this, show an ounce of decorum and take it down. I feel like we are living next to the Rodney Dangerfield character from Caddy Shack. Funny for a movie, not so funny in real life.

  • Quoth the LocalMan:

    "...but to suggest things like an engineer wasn't consulted just comes from a place of IGNORANCE (caps added)."

    ",,,your safety concerns come from a place of ignorance."

    "Fine, if you're "SO NARROW-MINDED" (caps added) as to just hate it outright from your personal tastes..."

    "People are scared of the new."

    "Go ahead and ask if it was engineered and permitted (it was)..."
    I would welcome some documentation for the assertion that it was. Where does that come from?

    "'s just a big blue thing."
    "Heck...", isnt that the fundamental problem? Itz just a big blue thing.

  • Inactive user

    Ah, I see. Ozlock assumed ignorant means "stupid," and it's used as an insult. Allow me to clarify: I use the term "ignorance" by it's actual definition: merely a lack of knowledge about something. That's not an insult. I was speaking about people making assumptions that the piece hadn't been engineered. And if they think that, they just need to learn how artists that have worked at that scale for many years work. They just don't do pieces that size without engineering. And those people can learn that. Ignorance is not an insult, it's a statement of a condition that can be easily changed. Now, WILLFUL ignorance is a totally different thing, but I have not accused anyone of that here. Are we ok now ozlock? I'll cop to the "narrow-minded" comment, that wasn't fair, and I'll retract that. But using the word "ignorance" in the context I used it is not an attack. as for saying "people are scared of the new," well, that's just a historical fact.

  • Inactive user

    And Barker, that's great that you have a private estate to hide your art from the masses. Wonderful. Not all of us have quite that luxury. As for the Kapoor comment, I merely meant to address the people that say big art needs a lot of room. That's not a rule, that's an opinion, and the Kapoor piece was just one example.

  • Hopefully the property owner will realize the very real damage he is doing to his neighbors property values and do the right thing prior to a lawsuit being brought. He should also realize that currently when most people are choosing contractors to do their work they do turn to the different web properties such as Yelp, etc to choose who they work with.

    I would hate to see comments start to appear all over the different social media forms from "past" customers (true or not true) about the shoddy work Novak may have been done. Financially that would not be a good thing.

    This may not bother Mr. Novak if the city constitutes a large portion of his business...although I cant imagine the new adminstration would ever want to support a person like this in the future given his actions. In addition I'm sure the new adminsitration will consider the financially powerful voting block that comprises this area of Lincoln Park and their near universal outrage at the situation before awarding future contracts.

  • Inactive user

    Wow, now people are resorting to threats of lying about the business on Yelp, etc? Over a sculpture? Amazing. And I was accused of being mean by using the word "ignorant." Wow.

  • Jerry Powell Active Resident

    I am appalled that anyone would resort to poorly veiled threats with regards to this property owner's business practices, ethics, etc. How dare you make such assumptions and threaten to disparage his company? Grow up...Novak is a national contractor with successes and questionable instances, much like THE REST OF US IN BUSINESS! To insinuate that the city, or any other entity, is going to take action to deny contracts to Novak is ridiculous, and leads me to thing you may spend more time at home than doing business in the real world with the rest of us. I hope his attorneys send you a kind note informing you of what defamation is.

  • Elsie neighbor

    I am starting to wonder if some of you are employed . . . . I've enjoyed following your posts, but I think the discussion has ceased to be productive and we should wait a few days and see what the city turns up in terms of approval.

  • I specifically said "I would hate to see comments start to appear..."
    If for one second you think that is defamatory, I suggest you go to a law dictionary and look up the word.

    As for your apparent lack of knowledge regarding how the political process and how campaign contributions work in the real world, especially here in Chicago, I can only suggest you find the time to read the papers going forward.

    Mr. Novak has choosen to impose his will on others. If you live in this area you have NO CHOICE but to look at his piece of art. That is not fair. Its not like we choose to move into an area with a GIANT 50 foot sculpture. Or even next to a public space where the city would be free to do as it chooses. We choose to live in a residential neighborhood where we pay a ton in real estate taxes each year.

  • EveryBlock Becca Director of Community Management

    Hey guys, just a reminder that we ask for everyone to exercise caution when talking about their neighbors on the site. EveryBlock isn't the place for rumors, personal attacks, etc.

    I hate to be the wet blanket here, but please help us keep the discussion focused on the comments in the original post. Thanks.

  • So everybody against this particular piece of art is also actively fighting against the advertising that is imposed upon you on a daily basis, right? Good.

  • Art

    Barker, you seem to think that everyone should agree with you that the piece has little art significance because you allegedly bring the most knowledge about art to the table. And that because it is not "significant" it should not be displayed. Or if it were "significant" then its OK if its displayed. The significance of the piece is irrelevant - the neighbors would be up in arms if a Calder or if Cloud Gate were installed in the yard.

    What is going on here is that you have a neighborhood where a shockingly large art piece is installed in a yard and people are pissed to beat the band about it. Torches are being lit and pitchforks grabbed. But as I noted above, Chicago has shockingly few regulations about development and this guy might not be doing anything illegal. That is what should upset people - that there is nothing on the books to prevent this from happening in the first place. Other than that I say the owner wins - he bought the property, built his house within the legal limits set bu the City of Chicago building code and that's that.

  • rich people are weird.

  • Inactive user

    Come on, "Burling Neighbor." If someone said to you, "Man, I'd hate to see your home set on fire if you don't stop leaving your empty trash cans on the street for more than a day," would you take that literally as a comment of actual worry, or as a threat? Be realistic, veiled threats are still threats. Drop the suggestions of lying about this guy's business, and stick to a discussion about the artwork itself, as the moderator has requested.

  • Shame on all of you for taking a site for healthy debate on a community issue into mud slinging and insults. This is supposed to be a place to exercise our democratic rights, not imitate a reality show.

    If the owner has proper permits we will hope it has been inspected and is safe. When the permit comes up for renewal I trust the people on this site will make their voices heard and block it.

    In the best case scenario, the owner will do the right thing and relocate the piece.

    I agree with Art and my initial posts all stated that it is crazy that he was allowed to put that up without passing a commission, and the alderman still has no answer as to whether it is allowed or safe.

    The point of significance realtes to the comments on the piece itself and that the owner is trying to make a statement. Someone commented that it is equivalent to the Eiffel tower. My response was that it plays no significant role in the art world and is simply a large piece that anyone would agree does not belong on that site. Forget my taste, the piece is half covered, hanging over the sidewalk and far too big for the location. NO art consultant or collector would have paired that site for that piece. I am astonished the artist actually did it.

  • As ar as another piece, Anish Kapoor designed cloud gate for that specific site. ALL large scale pieces are created or chosen with an appropriate site in mind as they are not like a painting you can just re-hang. Kapoor is a modern and significant artist. I recommend you look at Kapoor's installation, commission and achievements. There would be come basis and appropriateness to the piece. It looks like the sculpture scrap yard behind out arts building at college. Just a shame. Put the blue piece where it belongs and Novack should commission a piece that fits the property and takes into consideration the community in which he lives.

    He has now represented himself as an unfriendly neighbor with no taste. I would like to hear his point of view. I can't believe anyone would be this ignorant of his community. I trust he realizes the error of his ways and he will relocate the piece.

  • Inactive user

    "Someone commented that it is equivalent to the Eiffel tower. " That is an outright lie. Please stop. I already clarified this for you Barker, and you know better. Also, do you KNOW Henry wasn't involved in the selection of this site, or are you making yet more assumptions? If you want the discourse to be civil, stop lying about what others are saying, misrepresenting their words, and making giant leaps of assumption, Barker. Please.

  • i think the size of the piece may say something about the size of the piece..

  • Phil O. Buster 30 year northsider

    you could put an eye out with that

  • Did the city realy issue a permit show that could be put up?
    What an ugly structure, or is this suppose to be "Art"?

  • Buster

    I wish my block's biggest problem was someone wanting to enrich it with art! We're stuck trying to prevent people from being shot dead. And you've got the menacing threat of icicles potentially hitting you this winter!

  • I can speak on behalf of myself and several neighbors I know personally in saying that the same passion expressed on this blog regarding our area is spent in other areas to assist is making them safer with better education and health care.

    Although this discussion about art may seem trite to you, I think you would be astonished at the work these same individuals have done via time and their charitable contributions in neighborhoods where the residents wouldn't know their name or face.

    We have the best interest of EVERY community at heart.

  • Inactive user

    Care to retract you lies, Barker, so we can get back to being civil here?

  • Inactive user

    "youR lies"

  • Inactive user

    1%problems......sad and pathetic. The sculpture is doing just what Art should do and that is fostering conversation. Wish all of Chicago had a piece of Art has a problem. Some area's are dealing with gangs/food deserts/out of control kids Lincoln Park not so much.

  • Inactive user

    I think it pretty much says it all that the most vocal person here has an estate out in the country where they hoard their art in private...

  • Kim 25 year Northside resident. Area volunteer.

    Give it a rest LocalMan.

  • Elsie neighbor

    Oh LocalMan, starting to doubt you're local to Lincoln Park. Unfortunate that you've gone down the insult path; will disregard all your prior posts as without merit. I'm sure all of us on Burling Street would welcome donation of the blue thing to a less fortunate neighborhood. And, I certainly hope you don't discount all the contributions the wealthy make to this city.

  • Inactive user

    A wealthy person has just contributed a giant blue sculpture to the city! Clearly I haven't discounted *everything* they contribute. ;)

  • Inactive user

    And Elsie, weren't you the one that just suggested a lot of us are unemployed just for being a little active here? Pot, meet kettle.

  • Buster

    I appreciate being informed where this new work of art is placed. I'm going to go visit it one of these to take a look. I was looking at a map, and it seems this is the street with that mega-mansion. Does anyone in that area know the one I'm referring to? It's visible from Halsted...and on google street view. It looks like something you'd find in the French countryside on about 1,000 acres. Did I read once it's someone from the Armour family who had that giant mansion built there?

  • Brian,
    "... street with that mega mansion is a understatement." That street is loaded with them. I think the one you refer to that can be seen from Halsted is farther south of Armitage.
    The Blue Behemoth is located on Armitage one block east of Halsted. Itz on the corner--you cannot miss it.
    Try this link:

  • Brian,
    Our new superintendent of police has a concept called "Broken Glass." The principal is that when you ignore the little things, you can be sure that things will get worse. This is the story of Chicago for the past two decades--at least.
    I wont get into a discussion of that with you here, but your comment that you are worried about people getting shot dead suggests that we are being petty.
    But those of us who are active in this neighborhood deal with crime as well. Neighbors were responsible for busting a burglar when we worked directly with the police department. We deal with gang graffiti and drug use and many other problems.
    Dont assume that because people are frustrated by a tasteless, inappropriate sculpture in our midst that itz all we are concerned with--including crime and misuse of facilities in the park, dealing with bad behavior by Lincoln Park High School students, as well as inappropriate actions by the alderman, and yes, even making sure that things look nice.
    Now, can all of us deal with the issue here, and stop the name calling (by others, not you).
    Join us at CAPS meetings and other community meetings to learn more.

  • Inactive user

    Mr Barker - Your assessment of Mr. Henry's career is ill informed and inconsequential. If you do your homework you might find that Mr. Henry's contributions to the world of sculpture are recognized and appreciated world wide. Your taste in art is irrelevant to this discussion and one might assume from your personal attack on the artist that he beat you at billiards some dark and stormy night. You contradict yourself berating others for getting personal while you attack the not 20 year but over 40 year career by one of the country's most respected living artists. From all appearances ( having monumental scale works throughout the world) Mr. Henry is indeed a success, well regarded and a force to be reckoned with. This unfortunate contretemps is a tempest in a teapot.

    Also - if you were indeed as familiar as you pretend to be with contemporary American sculpture and Mr. Henry's work in particular, you would know that these works are highly engineered and designed to withstand the elements and forces of nature. I have never heard of you Mr. Barker , nor have I read your name in any art history books, however I do know the work of all of the artists you have mentioned and have read Mr. Henry's name in several important books on American art and sculpture.

  • Inactive user

    Another error I should point out to you. Mr Henry has indeed sat on several arts council boards, has helped collectors, museums, foundations and sculpture parks develop their collections and has not added his own work in these collections as it would be a conflict of interest. However, you suggest Governor's State might be interested - they have had an important Henry since the 70s.

    Henry's largest and most important works are not from the 1980s but are the mature works of an intelligent, continuously evolving and engaged artist who supports the arts throughout the world. Just because you don't hear the trees falling in the forest doesn't mean it isn't happening.

    The piece is enormous and perhaps there are some scale issues that should be open to discussion - successful art opens a lot of things to discussion....

    Ahhhhh - success!!!
    Bravo Mr. Henry ....encore...

  • This comment has been removed by EveryBlock staff.
  • Inactive user

    Being informed about art doesn't make me an art snob and expressing a correction to misinformation does not make me a bully. I am an art consultant, arts writer, arts administrator and arts educator though.... so this is where my interest lies. I think there are many arrogant impositions in our neighborhoods; drug dealers, loud cars, horrible signage, ungainly architecture, rude neighbors who don't pick up after their dogs.... all sorts of things that set my teeth on edge. Sometimes art is confrontational ...consider yourself confronted. You are confronted with all kinds of horrors everyday and you walk past them without even knowing they are there...contemporary life needs your full attention. This work of art is not hate crime, starvation, lack of appropriate housing, slavery, death, mutilation or a bomb going off. It is a work of art. You hate it, I get it.... and I hate nasty, snarky, anonymous name calling. I guess I have to live with that. And by the way , I was VERY sweet in kindergarten.

  • Inactive user

    Local Man, we have been branded art snobs and kindergarten bullies! I wonder if there is a support group we should join that will help us tone down our arts supporting rhetoric and teach us how to share our crayons and finger paint?

    Thank you Kim, we have been put firmly in our place and will never again attempt to discuss art from an informed position.

    And we see your point of view. Your neighborhood has gone straight to hell in a bucket, you might have to move away. It is a horror, terrifying, you must be ashamed to live there, truly I am so sorry that there is gang warfare on your doorstep.... oh wait, it is ART on your doorstep. Yep, that is really a hard pill to swallow, no one asked any of you to weigh in and you are mad as hell and and you aren't going to take it anymore! Raise some hell - perhaps next week we can all get together and burn some books and chip the toes off some sculptures ... because WE OBJECT!

  • Inactive user

    Watch out Lincoln Park.... the art is moving in next door! There goes the neighborhood! What is this, April Fool's Day? John Henry got his START in Lincoln Park - just blocks away... and trust me when his studio was on Webster or later on Halstead, there were no Doctors, Attorneys or even contractors living there! It was not all a nice neighborhood with condos and townhouses, coffee shops and boutiques. A little perspective please... gentrification and short memories. Chicago needs to reconnect with it's inner grit.

  • Inactive user

    But K Hudson, you don't understand! Someone put up a SCULPTURE among our McMansions! Don't you see how this is a DISASTER of biblical proportions? We must spend our precious time writing, berating and badgering the powers-that-be (who clearly have nothing better to deal with, like, oh, say, joblessness and crime) about this ATROCITY! An icicle might fall from it and kill a group of schoolchildren! And did I mention how this sculpture is creating starvation in Africa?!?

  • Inactive user

    I understand LocalMan - truly I do... perhaps it might help with this traumatic experience if we ask that the collector have it painted green and a Starbucks logo attached? I agree wholeheartedly, art...big sculpture in particular... is the root of all evils. Right now I have to go out and start up my Hummer and just burn some fuel until I feel better, after that I will relax with some reality tv and pretend that art simply doesn't exist. Thanks for understanding me!

  • Buster

    Can someone on that block let me that the block with that super-huge mansion? The one that looks like a European estate? I know where the sculpture is located...but I'm curious if anyone knows more about the mega mansion? Thanks.

  • Kim 25 year Northside resident. Area volunteer.

    You both just prove my point and you've both spent way more time on it than anyone else. I'm undescribing from this conversation because it is too childish.

  • Inactive user

    I am sorry I seemed to have missed someone's POINT and they took their pail and shovel and left the sandbox..... of course it is childish... the whole idea that we are changing the world by blogging anonymously in our pjs is completely absurd! I wasn't aware this was a contest to find out who can spend the least amount of time on it! Laugh, laugh hard.... and get out there and enjoy some art, it is a lovely day.

  • Dear K Hudson,
    You miss the point. The issue is not Barker, but the statute. Not Henry, but the statue. It is not the issue of whether art critics like or dislike Henry, but the issue of whether that behemoth is appropriate for that place in this neighborhood. And, whether itz encroachment on the sidewalk is safe and permitted.
    Please stop the personal attacks and address the real issues.

  • EveryBlock Becca Director of Community Management

    Hey everyone, let's stop with the personal attacks and name calling and stay on topic. Thanks.

  • Inactive user

    Your are correct - I was addressing Mr. Barkers attack on the artist and then got caught up in my own frenzy of self righteous angst. The sculpture.... I must digress a moment. The artist and his intentions.... An artists job, if you will, is to synthesize the issues and problems that confront and influence THEIR life and distill that synthesis into a form that we recognize as art; be it music, dance, 2d or 3d visual art, theatre... etc. Mr. Henry is influenced by the expressionists, the Bauhaus, the concepts of scale presented by the urban landscape and the constant barrage of confrontations rife in contemporary life. His work has evolved tremendously since the 60s when her first arrived on the scene. It has been insinuated in this forum that his work is inconsequential, this conversation would not be happening if that were true.
    The work, albeit not site specific, is hugely confrontational and also provides a respite and protective arm from the storm. Walking beneath his works of this scale is not dangerous - his work is famous for it's highly over engineered stability - but it may give you pause. It is as much about the balance and delicacy of those massive beams suspended over your head as a metaphor. If permits were the issue why would anyone attack the artist and the veracity of his career and the truth intrinsic to his work? My comments came from a place of wishing that people who should be better informed and use more respectful language would use that education they brag about. I stand corrected, I should not be wasting my time responding to this forum, I will get back to the real art world and the people who go out on a limb everyday of their lives trying to open the minds and hearts, dare I say souls of their brethren.

  • Inactive user

    Ozlock, how about a discussion about removing all the McMansions that *I* think are inappropriate for the neighborhood? *I'd* rather have people living there full time, being truly invested in their neighborhood, rather than people that run off to their country estate as soon as they get a chance. But I can't make that sort of decision about the neighborhood. Maybe if I had more money I'd have more say about what the collective tastes of the neighborhood should be.

  • LocalMan,
    " about a discussion about removing all the McMansions that *I* think are inappropriate for the neighborhood?"

    Sure. Why not. But not here, ok?

  • Everyblock Becca,

    Thanks for getting the discussion steered back on course.

  • Local man,

    Evidently you and K Hudson wish to have a forum as a catharsis for your financial status. I respect that

  • This is an issue dear to you both but this is a forum regarding a structure in our community we wish to insure was installed via the proper channels and is safe.

    Although you seem to have a disdain for the homes surrounding the property being discussed, the owners all went through the proper permiting, zoning and community approval. They also restricted their structures to their lot lines.

    This forum is to discuss whether this happened on the sculpture site.

    If you are in need of a public cathartic discussion about you finances I ask that you find another location as it is not relevant here nor is it comfortable to listen to.

    You pushing you personal issues on this community is The exact objection we have to the blue piece.

    Thank you

  • Inactive user

    I fail to see where I have suggested disdain for the homes in Lincoln Park , my family has lived in the area for the last 45 years. I fail to see where I have given any indication of my financial status, nor do I believe that is anyone's concern in regards to this discussion. I fail to see how my comments are more or less personal than the comments you have made - we know that you are wealthy, have an art collection, are a 7th generation collector etc. and that you feel that all of this makes you an expert that can disparage the work of a respected artist despite the fact that the forum is "about the permits". I myself am only a second generation collector of sculpture, and my little place in the country will only be an estate when I am dead, so perhaps I don't have all of the qualifications to disparage an artist's career in a public forum about permits... but even with an addition of 5 generations of collecting, I would keep my opinions about the veracity of an artist's investment in their career and to their art to a face to face discussion where I am not hiding behind my computer screen. I believe that we are all pushing our personal beliefs on the community here -why bother to blog if you aren't going to express your opinion? There are plenty of people in support of the behemoth you might be surprised to know - but they aren't great news! It is so much fun to be angry and offended- it is not all that interesting to watch someone smile and say - well ok then, that got my attention.

    I truly do not understand your comment about my financial status....whatever you may have meant, how would you even attempt to surmise what that may be? I am deeply offended that you would resort to some sort of crack about a stranger's financial station... where I grew up, Lincoln Park.... that was considered throwing something enormous at an unsuspecting bystander.................

  • Inactive user

    or worse.

  • Inactive user

    I do hope that all of you enjoy the neighborhood, that the issue at hand is resolved with grace and dignity and that the disparagement of the artist's respectable career ceases. It is clear to me that my original intent - to correct the misinformation posted here and a few attempts to put this issue into perspective and lighten the mood are not appreciated. If I said something nasty about the collectors intentions or the artist perhaps that would have met with approval. But as I don't really feel the need for any approval today and feel that whiners are boring, in lieu of giving anyone anything further to whine about, ie my audacity to express my opinion, I think I will sign out. I wish you all a perfectly safe and permitted life and that you are never confronted by anything that makes you uncomfortable or that bends your ideals of taste and suitability. Lincoln Park has always been an exciting and interesting mix, I hope it doesn't start to feel like the suburbs.

  • To add some humor......

    Below is directly from John Henry's website of recent exhibitions. Please go look. It's too funny!!! He actually just closed an exhibit called 'sculptures at appropriate scale'. You can't make this up!

    Location: 25 Chepstow Corner London W2 4XE, United Kingdom
    Exhibit Title: New Works

    Dates: January 21, 2011 - March 26, 2011
    Location: Gallery Sonja Roesch
    Exhibit Title: Structures at Appropriate Scale

    Gallery Sonja Roesch in Houston, TX will be hosting an exhibition of John Henry sculptures titled "Structures at Appropriate Scale." John Henry will be present at the opening reception on Friday, January 21. The pieces selected for the exhibition range from tabletop size to large-scale outdoor sculptures.

  • Inactive user

    So, it's about proper permits, not insulting the artist, eh? You just proved that a lie. And now you're saying some of us are just too poor to have an opinion about art? Dang, man. Low.

  • Inactive user

    And if it's really just about permits, how does insulting the artist and those that can't afford country estates further your cause? Just go to the city and pull the permits. Or is that beneath you?

  • Inactive user

    Yes - the artist's work is, in large part - no pun intended - about scale. Anyone who knows his work would already be aware of this. But this is not about the artist or his intentions or his work, right? This is about if the collector, who chose the site ( not a site specific piece remember), received the proper permits to overhang the sidewalk. This is the stated purpose of the discussion, it is not, in anyway about the artist's intentions ...right? I had to ask even though I was not going to comment again, as I received 14 emails asking me not to "sign out".

  • Inactive user

    If the purpose of the discussion is to root out some way to get a privately owned sculpture removed from private property simply because some people don't like it, there should be a roar of outrage from every corner. Who can tell you what to put on your property - if that is the community you want to live in, I would suggest a gated community in suburbia that dictates by community the look and feel right down to the plants you can have, the length of your lawn grasses and the "lawn ornaments" that are permitted... this kind of control by committee has no place in the urban landscape. But if the discussion is truly about the permits that are required to assure the safety of the community - well then, whew, I am so glad we are not leaning toward a cultural revolution where neighbors report one another based on fear, misapprehension and personal dislike. When your neighbor gets to have a say about your taste you are living in a controlled environment that reduces individualism to a lowest numerator.... a sorry state of affairs at best. Vive la differérence!

  • Elsie neighbor

    K Hudson,

    I can respect your views and I can choose whether to read them or not. As a resident on Burling Street, not so much with the blue behemoth.

    You can go on about personal freedom and exposure to art. The piece at issue is inappropriate for the front yard of a private home on a quiet residential street in Lincoln Park. It just is. The block has become an attraction, with increased foot and vehicle traffic for people to see the "art." Maybe that's what the owner intended, but it's not what I signed up for when I bought my house. Our block has become a public attraction in a way different from people simply wanting to check out some big houses. I don't think installing this piece of art is comparable to what bushes I choose to line my parkway (in the 10+ years I've lived on Burling, I don't recall any public outcry over someone's bushes). There's personal freedom and there's being a good neighbor. A good neighbor doesn't install a piece of art bigger than his house without talking to the neighbors first. He's a crappy neighbor just like the ones who regularly let their dogs out at 6am and leave them in the yard to bark or those who habitually blast their music outdoors at 4:00 am. Sure, they have the right to do so (and I'm glad for those rights), but it demonstrates selfishness and a lack of respect for and civility toward their neighbors.

    So, yes, it might turn out that the owner got the proper permits and the structure has been installed safely and the neighbors will have to live with his personal taste in art, but I doubt anyone is going to be baking and bringing him a cake as a welcome to the neighborhood. And what really saddens me is that he probably doesn't care.

  • Inactive user

    Elsie said: " The block has become an attraction, with increased foot and vehicle traffic for people to see the "art."

    Guess where all the attention came from? The outraged people contacting news outlets to get their opinion heard! It's people like you and Barker that CREATED all this attention and added traffic!

    New headline : "Iron Irony, the Story of Big Blue."

    Don't worry, the attention will die down once you guys drop the outrage and move on to more important things in life. Things will mostly go back to normal. Oh, and I'm going to bake that guy a cake! Thanks for the idea!

  • Elsie neighbor

    Oh yeah, I'm sure its enormity had nothing to do with it. No one would have noticed it without the new crews. Silly me.

  • The news crews were called out as a means of putting pressure on the alderman's office to provide some answers. We are on day 10 since the sculpture was erected and the alderman's office has yet to produce a permit or any answers.

  • Contrary to what has been suggested here, Willjam started this discussion, and I thank him.

    I live only a block or two away and hadnt known about it--not the path I usually take.

  • Inactive user

    Selfishness or lack of interest in our neighbors interests and views is not regimented by laws - nor is lack of respect for our neighbors. Perhaps you MIGHT LIKE to bring your new neighbors a cake, ask them about the sculpture and what their intentions are and why they have done what they have done. Perhaps you will see the rest of the their collection and gain the inside track on what makes this guy tick. You may never agree or like the sculpture, the neighbor or their views - or you may develop a mutual understanding and dialogue. I am sure the outrage and anger is making the collector dig in his heels and demand his own right to express himself in any way he sees fit. He may be forced to remove the sculpture if the proper permits were not obtained. I am sure some would take that as a sort of victory. And if the reasons for it's removal turn out to be an unlawful trespass, the victory will be because of adherence to law, not due to public or neighborhood pressure.

  • Inactive user

    I am sure if this John Henry comes down it will be quickly replaced with a site specific work that complies strictly with codes and permits and will be bright orange with purple swags and green dots ( not a Henry one might add)! Because the collector will be angry and out to make a statement - not based on his love of this work of art - but based on a desire to let the community know just how little they can regiment his life. He may also find that he can simply move the sculpture a few feet to comply with the laws and regulations. It will be interesting to see what happens here, if the sculpture is removed it will be a victory for all the angry neighbors and a defeat for the individual right to define one's life, a perilous situation that we are dealing with on many fronts in this country. I do not say that the plight of this sculpture is as important as many of the other rights that hang in the balance these days, but as a metaphor I think it is serving as only the best Art can serve. It is making us confront issues that make us uncomfortable and serving as a symbol for larger issues that threaten our freedoms... interesting. I would suggest an apple spice cake, that is a lovely gesture on a cold November afternoon.

  • Inactive user

    Perhaps putting away the pitchforks and the torches and dragging out the baking pans might be a useful attempt to create community and real dialogue.... do we really know our neighbors? Probably not.

  • This comment has been removed by EveryBlock staff.
  • Elsie neighbor

    Perhaps you don't know your neighbors, but I know mine. I'll keep working with them on this issue off line and you can take an apple spice cake over to the blue behemoth owner. Perhaps you can sit under it together, eat cake, and talk art.

  • Inactive user

    I'm looking forward to it, Elsie! :) Whether I love it or hate it, I'm happy when people put their art where the public can experience it, rather than hoarding it away on private estates where it can only be enjoyed by a select privileged few. Viva la art! :)

  • This comment has been removed by EveryBlock staff.
  • Inactive user

    Boring, all of you!!!

  • Just looked up the permits issued by the City:
    100391316 PERMIT - ELECTRIC WIRING 04/25/2011 $5000.00 $50.00 $50.00 1968 N BURLING ST INSTALL 200A 120/240V SINGLE PHASE ELECTRICAL SERVICE. JOB #133048 14-33-300-042-0000 CONTRACTOR-ELECTRICAL CONTINENTAL ELECTRICAL CONSTRU 5900 HOWARD ST. SKOKIE IL 60077- (847)677-1600 X
    These are the only permits showing up on the Building department site

    Link at:

  • Inactive user

    Glad you know your neighbors and WOW this Hudson Woman .... that is such an interesting way of putting that - actually not miserable or spoiling for a fight - and I was being ironic about the cake - Karl Mang is right - this is boring, including the part that I am now playing in it .... despite the requests to stay onboard ... no thanks, this is just a forum for abuse..BLEH!!!

  • This comment has been removed by EveryBlock staff.
  • Inactive user

    As for permits, I can't find a permit issued for "building an atrocity" at 1932 N. Burling. That fake beast of a thing makes my eyes bleed. Buildings like that are killing the feel of the neighborhood. But THAT is ok, right? Art, though, is a "disaster."

  • This comment has been removed by EveryBlock staff.
  • MinnieVanDriver Neighbor

    ah, rich people problems...

  • EveryBlock Becca Director of Community Management

    Hey everyone, I understand this is a issue that many folks feel strongly about, but just a reminder to please avoid making personal attacks.

    As a rule of thumb, we ask everyone to comment on the content/issue and not the contributor. We understand that it's sometimes difficult to separate the two, but this helps keeps the conversations on EveryBlock friendly and neighborly.

  • I really think that it is beautiful and will actually increase the value of homes because of the "art" element.

  • Art

    A building permit for the art work is not required as far as I know. The owner "might" require a public way use license. Such a license/permit is approved by the city council and its required to for example, to put an awning/sign of a storefront that hangs over the sidewalk or to put in a parkway planter box or fencing at a single family home. It seems that the city controls anything from the sidewalk to the street including air rights and you need a public way use license when you are going to impact the public way.

  • Ted Led 2800 Block of Sedgwick

    This all reminds me of a very simple and meaningful children's book - Daniel Pinkwater's The Big Orange Spot.

    "Mr. Plumbean, lives on a 'neat street' where all the houses look the same. A seagull flies over his house and drops a can of bright orange paint on his roof, but instead of repainting his house to look like all the others on the street, Mr. Plumbean paints it to look like all his dreams. His neighbors send people to talk him into repainting his house to look like theirs, but everyone he talks to ends up painting their houses like their dreams also. In the end, all the neighbors say:

    'Our street is us and we are it. Our street is where we like to be, and it looks like all our dreams.'"

    From Wikipedia page ...

  • Wow, Ted Led. Great post.

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This was posted to 1848-1999 N. Burling St.

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