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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?

  • 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.

21 neighbors are subscribed to this conversation.

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

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