Who knows what evil…

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… lurks on the walls of Chicago apartment houses?

So, last summer, my sister and I were driving around Chicago, attending various family reunions. (Actually, they were newly discovered family, so they weren’t so much REunions as… I guess, just unions.) Anyway, while we were driving I noticed the flute player on this house, and asked my sister (the driver) to stop so I could shoot it. (She’s getting used to this.)

I did a little research and learned from Robert Powers’s excellent blog, A Chicago Sojourn, that the same developer responsible for the flute player had also incorporated the Three Wise Monkeys “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”) on other buildings.

But why? Thanks to the digging that Powers did, the answer seems to be simply: “Because.” The headline of a Chicago Tribune article from 1956 says it best: “No reason, but monkeys adorn dwelling units.”

The story says that Angelo Esposito, president of the general contracting firm that built the house and apartments, had always put sculpture on his buildings. The monkeys were chosen “for no special reason,” he said, but added, “The fact that it has created talk and interest, tho*, indicates the idea accomplished what it was meant to do.”

I have a special fondness for the “hear no evil” monkey, who clearly is open to hearing anything and everything:

*Back in the 50s and 60s, and probably before and probably since, the Chicago Tribune, no doubt like other newspapers, used to use these shortened versions of words (e.g., tho, thru) to save space. So I never understood why the Trib insisted on using “clew” in its headlines. That “w” takes up a huge amount of space.

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4 thoughts on “Who knows what evil…

  1. Really cool…I like your blog so much for curating art in real life. I am also following a blog called Illustrated Vancouver where murals and graffiti and such are being curated and posted. Not the sculptures like you do but more of the graphic side. Keep it up please!

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