3 things to love and hate about the “Millennium Park Bean”

The location

Chicagoans gotta love the location of this thing, and here’s why. It concentrates all the summer tourists into one easily-avoidable spot. It’s an isolated haven for all of the out-of-towners. I can imagine most visitors see little else of the city as they center their travels around the Loop. They’ll spend a day in Millennium Park taking pictures of their reflections, as if they’ve never seen a mirror

Millennium Park bean

Picture of “The Bean” by http://hagensnest.blogspot.com

before. A second day might be spent visiting the Sears Tower skydeck (although they refer to it as the “Willis Tower”), maybe a stop at the Field Museum, and dinner at Billy Goat Tavern.  Some of the more adventurous ones might, just MIGHT, try to navigate their way up the Redline to see Wrigley Field, but for the most part they don’t wander far from “The Bean” and the rest of us might be able to go the whole summer without seeing a tourist.

The Cost

Footed by private donors, “The Millennium Park Bean” was supposed to cost only $9 million, but ended up running a bill of $23 million, and made by some fancy-pants art dude from India named Anish Kapoor. To put that number in perspective here’s an excerpt from an article from ABC news a few years back:

“Even though “the Bean” was privately paid for, comparing it’s $23 million cost is stunning:

  • It is more than the City of Chicago budget for women’s and children’s health care.
  • It is twice the money the city spends on fire prevention.
  • Four times the budget for low-income heating bill help.
  • Eight times the amount the city spends on it’s plan to end homelessness.

It is also interesting to compare “the Bean” to the Picasso, which used to be Chicago’s most famous public sculpture. The Picasso cost a small fraction of “the Bean,” and there is a distinct difference in the commission paid to the artists, Anish Kapoor who designed “the Bean” and Pablo Picasso who designed the Picasso. Kapoor was paid $700,000. Picasso did the work for free.”

Millenium Park bean sculpture

Large HQ photo of “Chicago Bean” cloud gate sculpture by http://www.flickr.com/photos/jkleeman/

Imagine if the city raised $23 million to dump into the failing Chicago Public School system, or if the money was spent to save some of the city’s much-needed mental health facilities. But hey, at least now we have something big and shiny to attract the tourists instead…

The Name

“Cloud Gate”? Seriously, we’re sticking with Cloud Gate as the official name? It’s shaped like a f%$*ing bean! How about we call it “The Bean”? I’d argue that it looks much more like a bean than a gate, but then again, I’m not really a gate expert, but I do walk through them occasionally.
New goal in life:

  1. Become rich, classy artist.
  2. Make a GIANT sculpture of a silver banana
  3. Name it “Puzzles”

Then people will be all like, why is it called “Puzzles”? And I’ll say, well that’s the puzzle…

Barney and Ted Puzzles the bar himym via http://www.unofficialhimym.co 


  1. If you pull off #1, hook me up. ;D I;m hard pressed to sell more than a few paintings a year.

    Also, the bean does not look a like any of Anish Kapoor’s other works. At least what I have seen, being the big clunky over-sized twigs, earth, mud or clay-like works. Shiny shit is Jeff Koons hallmark, not Kapoor’s. Did Kapoor want cash money and calculate to copy the successful Koons? Put something even shinier next to a Gehry? Additionally, Kapoor thought he could -wanted to and tried to- prevent anyone from making money from images of the sculpture. Of course professional photographers rushed out to get it slapped on post cards and calendars. This led to various legal kerfuffles because you can’t practically maintain total image rights on a public monument! I would very much like to hear from any artists or photographers that got a legal fuck-you-letter in the mail from attorneys representing image rights for Kapoor. I will gladly publish your stories.

  2. Oh gosh now I feel like a complete fool for acting like a “tourist” every time I go downtown. I must admit I usually visit “the bean” which I use to call the beam (?) and then found out its proper name is the cloud gate! Now about $23 million, why didn’t I know this? Thats just madness as if we don’t have other problems that can be solved with $23 million, I love this city but sometimes it makes me wonder what the heck is wrong with the people “in charge”

    • Garbero Photography says:

      Would you like me less if I said this was one of the main things I am looking forward to seeing? That and the digital fountain! For the record, I call it the bean!~

  3. I love Cloud Gate. I know it might seem terrible to spend that kind of money on art. But it seems to me that we need to spend that kind of money on art every once in awhile. And the rest of the time, spend it on schools and heating help and health care. And maybe a little bit less on sports and political crap??

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