Best Street for Sculpture | Best of Chicago 2013 | City Life | Chicago Reader

Best Street for Sculpture

Elaine Place

Critics' Picks

For 35 years a pair of life-size giraffes guarded the entrance to Elaine Place off of Roscoe. They were made from steel car bumpers welded together by Chicago artist John Kearney, and they were easily the most charming things on a charming street. At Christmas time, residents of the Elaine Place Apartments would drape giant wreaths around their necks. In 1999 they were joined by a goat, also made by Kearney, installed at the other end of the block, on Cornelia. And then last fall all three animals suddenly disappeared, casualties in a dispute between Milton Zale, the former owner of Elaine Place Apartments, and the new owner, Chicago Apartment Finders. Zale had had them removed to be cleaned and restored and said he would only return the giraffes if Chicago Apartment Finders paid him $90,000. (No one, he said, cared about ransoming the goat.) The neighbors were sad, but no one could come up with the money. So Chicago Apartment Finders decided to repopulate the block by sponsoring one of this year's sculptures in the Chicago Sculpture Exhibit, an annual arts display on the north side. Now Elaine Place has Night in Tunisia by local artist Ron Gard. It ain't a giraffe, but at least it's something.

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