Giant eyeball makes Loop debut

July 6, 2010 10:00:00 PM PDT
A three-story eyeball now stands in Pritzker Park at South State St. and West Van Buren."EYE" is a 30-foot-tall, three-dimensional re-creation of an eyeball, with a blue iris similar to artist Tony Tasset's, an Oak Park native.

It is composed of 15 pieces of painted fiberglass affixed to a massive, reinforced steel, spherical sculpture.

A companion piece called "CARDINAL" is an installation of 156 street banners revealing a bold red cardinal -- the state bird -- in flight against a bright blue sky, unfolding like a "flip book" on State Street lamp posts north from Congress Parkway to Wacker Drive.

The pair of artworks is the centerpiece of the Chicago Loop Alliance's Art Loop 2010.

"My job as an artist, as a sculptor, first and foremost, is to make the space more interesting. I really wanted to make something that had a wow effect. This is Chicago after all. It's the city of big shoulders. So, I had to go all out," Tasset said.

This eye in the sky was built in Sparta, Wisconsin, based on a smaller model and a detailed photograph of Tasset's own eye.

Chicagoans can keep an eye on it through October.

"I do think together the Cardinal and the big giant eyeball create a weird sort of what I call a surreal noir quality. If you think about a David Lynch or an Alfred Hitchcock, it has a little bit of that aspect to it," the artist said.

The Chicago Loop Alliance hopes to hit the bulls eye with public art, making this an annual event.

"We thought that having a temporary piece of art would incentivize visitors to the Taste of Chicago, to the Art Institute, to Millennium Park, to all the great cultural institutions and events in the area," said Ty Tabin, executive director of the Chicago Loop Alliance.

Not everyone will see eye to eye with this larger-than-life sculpture, but that's OK with its creator.

"I've always said that I want to make art that people either love or hate, never a neutral reaction. And I certainly don't think they'll have a neutral reaction," Tasset said.

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