Today I’m going to share a little about one of the sculptures that inspired my New Adult Urban Fantasy/Science Fiction novel Gateway to Reality.
The famous Chicago sculpture many refer to as “the Bean” is formally titled the Cloud Gate. This massive, mirrored, curvilinear piece of art sits in Millennium Park against a backdrop of angular skyscrapers, and was one of the main inspirations for Gateway to Reality.
I was fascinated by the sculpture before I ever got to see it in person. It’s difficult to capture the full essence of the Cloud Gate with a single photo, though many have tried. When I visited Chicago in 2006, I finally got to experience the Bean with my own eyes, and it immediately became one of my favorite spots in the city.
If you haven’t been there, you might be wondering why some giant bean is anything to write home about. I don’t have a definitive answer to that question, except my personal feelings about it. There’s something about modern art in general that inspires wonder. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been mystified and awed by pieces like this—elegant yet simple, and almost childlike in design.
One thing I admire about the sculpture is its accessibility. Not only was it placed in a public area, requiring no admission fee, but it isn’t barricaded with fences, posts, or warnings not to touch. The Cloud Gate was designed so that people could interact with it. If you’ve been to Millennium Park, you’ll know the pull that the sculpture has. It draws visitors in for a closer look as they examine the skewed reflections, enticing them in perhaps the way a funhouse mirror might, making them question their assumptions of what they think they should see . Beyond that, it urges people to touch its smooth surface, to walk beneath and gaze up at the kaleidoscope of images below the arch. All of this, the artist and builders have allowed.
Genius. Why can’t more art be like that?
In Gateway to Reality, the Bean is more than a piece of art. For Wes Teague, it’s the place where his sister vanished, and because of that, it exudes darker sensations. But it also holds what might be considered calming properties over him, drawing him to it repeatedly as he searches for equilibrium in the crazy world of the Existence.
What are your favorite sculptures or pieces of art and why? Do you think art should be set apart or readily available to the public?
Gateway to Reality is available:
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