On June 12, I wrote about Ken Perschke's RedBall public art project. The occasion was my seeing this giant 15-foot ball installed in the Washington Street lobby of the Chicago Cultural Center just in front of the information desk where I volunteer every Thursday morning. My attitude turned from indifference to admiration as I noted public reaction to this strange and unexpected sight.
The ball reappeared in Chicago this month, moving from public place to public place, where it drew double takes, laughter, and interest everywhere from Millenium Park to the chess pavilion on the lake in Lincoln Park to Federal Plaza near the Calder sculpture. With my limited walking ability, I didn't see it in any of those places, but it occasionally got newspaper and TV notice.
Today marked the ball's final Chicago appearance, back at the Cultural Center. I was there. This time, it was just being inflated, so I first saw it hanging from the second floor walkway above the lobby. Eventually it reached full size, suspended above the huge Washington Street entrance to the building. By now, it was eagerly awaited. Groups of school children gathered, hoping for chances to jump and play on the ball. Unfortunately, the late appearance and location of the ball precluded such play, but I was able to see some unsuspecting visitors' amazement when they were directed to look up. Cameras were flashing; I wish I'd had mine with me.
I've never known much about modern art or public (usually outdoor) art, yet this was fun. It's art that brings and has brought smiles worldwide. Next stop: Toronto.
Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne.
Photo: The ball at the Cultural Center, September 25.