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Explore Chicago's Public Art

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They call Chicago the "Windy City" largely because of its proximity to Lake Michigan. In the winter, when the cold winds blow, you better button up. But there's more to Chicagoland than cold wind. It is a region filled with great history, sports, dining, and culture. One aspect of Chicago's culture you may enjoy on your visit to the region is its public art. We asked our team for their recommendations for the public art they like the most. We think you will agree it's quite a list. Our choices:

Cloud Gate

We start with a trendy choice, but the piece of sculpture that anchors Chicago's Millennium Park is something that you cannot miss. Nicknamed "The Bean" for its curved shape, Cloud Gate consists of 168 stainless steel plates, welded together.

What makes Cloud Gate so remarkable is that the shiny, reflective plates show no seams. Almost like looking into a curved mirror, Cloud Gate challenges your perceptions of the shapes of the world around you. The sculpture allows visitors to walk around and under. It was sculpted by Sir Anish Kapoor of Great Britain. Cloud Gate is located along famed Michigan Avenue, near the intersection with Randolph Street.

The Chicago Picasso

If you're looking for more downtown sculpture, our team recommends the aptly named "Chicago Picasso." The Picasso sculpture anchors Daley Plaza in the Chicago Loop and was actually the first piece of public art in the downtown area. The significance of the sculpture is hinted at by its name. The piece was indeed sculpted by famed artist Pablo Picasso on commission, though Picasso refused payment. He considered the sculpture a gift to the people of the city.

The Picasso is 50 feet tall and weighs about 150 tons. It often attracts young children who like to slide down the side. You can find the sculpture along Randolph and Washington Streets between Dearborn and Clark Streets, near the Richard J. Daley Center, the location of the Cook County Circuit Courts.

Fountain of the Great Lakes

If you're on an art tour on your visit to Chicago, then the public art piece known as Fountain of the Great Lakes is a good one to put on your list. Also known as Spirit of the Great Lakes Fountain, this bronze piece, which dates back to 1907, is outside the Art Institute of Chicago. Check out the Fountain of the Great Lakes, and then head inside to enjoy the world-class art exhibits.

The sculpture shows five women in homage to the Great Lakes. They are designed in a way to mimic the flow of water through the Great Lakes themselves, starting at Lake Superior and then moving east to Lake Ontario. Work began in 1907 and continued through 1913. The sculpture was later relocated. You can find it today in the South McCormick Memorial Court.

The Four Seasons

The Loop in downtown Chicago also has its share of classically painted public art. The Four Seasons, located on South Dearborn Street, created by artist Marc Chagall, a Russian-French artist. The piece is a mosaic consisting of panels stretching 70 feet long and standing 14 feet high. The painting is called The Four Seasons, the artist explained, as it illustrates the various stages of human life. Chagall created 128 panels in a studio in France; they were later assembled on site. The piece also includes stone and glass and consists of images of birds, fish, and nature along with city skylines and other more urban pursuits. This painting/sculpture was a gift to the city of Chicago and was dedicated in 1974.

Statue of Alexander Hamilton

Given the popularity of the hit Broadway musical "Hamilton," your public art tour of Chicago must include a look at how the Windy City honors the revered Founding Father. Standing 13 feet tall and weighing some 5,000 pounds, the city's Alexander Hamilton statue stands proudly in Lincoln Park. The statue was completed in 1939 and dedicated in 1952. It traces its origins back to a wealthy philanthropist who, just like composer and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda, felt Hamilton's contributions to America had not been properly recognized. In recent years, the statue went through a renovation.


Another must-see sculpture in the downtown Chicago area is also outside a public building. Flamingo, a 50-ton, 53-foot tall steel abstract structure, is most recognizable by its bright red color. The creator, artist Alexander Calder, wanted to bring some color to the blacks and grays of the buildings in that part of Chicago's Loop. It is also an example of accessible public art in Chicago in that it allows people to examine the structure from underneath. Flamingo was first presented to the public in 1974.

Bust of Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable

Public art is always evolving, and never static, so our list should include at least one item that was created in the 21st century. The Bust of Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable is a sculpture that honors the man that the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois credit as being the first person to settle the region. Mr. DuSable was a fur trader and chose a spot along what is now called the Chicago River for his first trading post. The bust is along Michigan Avenue in the plaza adjacent to the Tribune Tower (a piece of public art unto itself for its Gothic design.)

About Automatic Appliance Parts Corporation

Family-owned and operated, Automatic Appliance Parts Corporation has been serving the Chicagoland area for more than 50 years. We offer seven convenient locations around the region, but we will be there when you need us. Wherever there is a need, we will ship replacement parts and supplies wherever a customer requires.

Your trip to Automatic Appliance Parts Corporation doesn't have to be all about business. In your visit to the Chicago area, consider taking in one or more of these splendid public art projects. Are there any that we've missed? What are your favorites? Let us know and we will add them to the list.