Culture / Newsy

Chicago Goes Complete Cry Baby Over Houston, Accuses America’s New No. 3 City of Sculpture Theft

When a Bean Turns Into a Battle Point in a Population War

BY // 03.29.18

It’s no secret that Houston is raring to become the third largest city in the United States. It’s a spot we’re sure to snag from Chicago in the next decade. The Chicago area’s population has shrunk for the third year in a row, while Houston just keeps on growing.

Last year, Chicago lost 13,286 residents while Houston gained 94, 417. The inevitable ranking shifts keep ramping up.

The Windy City caught wind of the news a while back, and Chicago publications have been snarkily shouting out warnings to their readers since at least 2015. Now, things have even escalated at the Chicago Tribune from even-keeled, informative articles to out-and-out trash talk.

As it turns out, Chi-Town isn’t shy when it comes to its opinion on the matter. The city’s latest Houston target?

The Bayou City’s brand new sculpture, “Cloud Column,” made by Sir Anish Kapoor. Who just so happens to be the artist behind Chicago’s “Cloud Gate,” which was officially dedicated in May of 2016 in Chicago’s Millennium Park. The new Houston sculpture is located in the Museum District. It’s currently being installed in front of the Glassell School of Art.

In a Chicago Tribune article headlined “Unoriginal 4th place Houston gets its own bean sculpture… whatever,” writer Kim Janssen shares his disaffected-but-desperate-for-clicks take on the new statement-making art piece.

First, the strictly factual, if passive aggressively worded: “It’s, er, in the shape of a bean, just like the Millennium Park icon. And it’s shiny and made of stainless steel.” True. But here’s where the sore loser streak comes out: “If being surrounded by a cultureless abyss insufficiently communicates to confused tourists that they are in Houston, the bean’s verticality will therefore act as an additional reminder of their poor life choices,” the Chicago Tribune’s Kim Janssen writes.

Get it, because Chicago’s own bean sculpture is flat on its side?

Janssen does cite Houston and Chicago’s relative growth increases and declines, but he doesn’t stop short of referring to Houston as a “lesser” city, presumably in terms of overall value.

Our “lesser” city does not have a history of insulting other cities when they share interest in a talented artist and their public works. Chicagoans are no doubt familiar with Alexander Calder‘s Flamingo, one of the sculptor’s stabiles in that bright, signature red. It was unveiled in Chicago in 1974.

Just in case Janssen was wondering, Houston debuted its own Calder, the Crab, one of the sculptor’s signature stabiles in that bright, signature red, in 1965. Yes, a full nine years before Chicago had a Calder.

There are some different aspects, of course. It was a simpler, less technological time back then. Houston and Chicago weren’t jockeying for a coveted city ranking back then.

In the 1970s, Chicago’s population hovered around 3 million people, and Houston’s was less than half of that. Still, we get the feeling that Houston wouldn’t have minded. (Our Calder isn’t on view currently.)

Houston is creeping up on Chicago, threatening to overtake it and Chicagoans are feeling threatened. It looks like the Second City isn’t feeling so hot about becoming the fourth.

But please, just show a little class. Like Houston.

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