State Street gets 'Eye' art

June 28, 2010 (CHICAGO) Chicago's newest piece of public art is a real eye-opener. Mounted on the corner of State and Van Buren is a 30-foot, 3-dimensional eyeball sculpture, simply titled "Eye."

"My job as an artist, as a sculpture, 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," artist Tony Tasset said.

This eye in the sky was built in Sparta, Wisconsin, based on a smaller model and a detailed photograph of artist Tasset's own eye. It's made of steel reinforced fiberglass, with a high-gloss paint. Once complete, the eye was transported and assembled on-site at the South Loop location, where visitors and Chicagoans can keep an eye on it through October.

There's more to this spherical sculpture than meets the eye. "Cardinal" is Tasset's companion piece: 156 street banners, revealing a red cardinal in flight. It unfolds like a flip book along State street, giving you the bird's eye view.

"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 dir. Chicago Loop Alliance.

Not everyone will see eye to eye with this larger than life sculpture, but that's okay 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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