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What does popularity of God Bless America sculpture say about public art in Chicago?

October 1, 2009

But what statement do these two figures make about public art? Steve JohnsonTribune reporter

God Bless America, 2008 (J. Seward Johnson Jr.)

Location: Pioneer Plaza, 401 N. Michigan Ave.

This 25-foot-tall knock-off of “American Gothic” sits on its pedestal along Michigan Avenue, just north of the Chicago River. The man with the pitchfork and the woman with the prim collar gaze stoically across at the Wrigley Building. (Tribune photo by Phil Velasquez)

It’s not a shocker, really, that the figures lifted from one of American art’s most famous images and made enormous and three-dimensional have proved so popular.

There is something both surprising and pleasing about encountering God Bless America, J. Seward Johnson Jr.’s 25-foot-tall knockoff of “American Gothic,” on its pedestal along Michigan Avenue, just north of the Chicago River.

The farmer and his daughter look so much like the people in Grant Wood‘s painting it’s almost surreal (without in any way representing surrealism). And yet, there they are, freed of the canvas at the Art Institute, looking as excited about their escape as they might about falling crop prices.

The man with the pitchfork and the woman with the prim collar gaze stoically across at the Wrigley Building, tourists dropped in from a time and place where pitchforks weren’t just items from movie mob scenes.

Read more at Chicago Tribune: A statement about public art?

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