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Have a ball today on the Michigan Avenue bridge | by spudart
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Have a ball today on the Michigan Avenue bridge

Seven balls happily sit on the relief of the northeast bridge tower in downtown Chicago. It was quite an experience photographing these seven balls. Normally when I place artwork downtown, it's a single small piece and nobody pays attention. In fact, most people just pass it by without noticing.


But as I was photographing these seven bouncy balls, all these tourists were coming up looking at them. One boy even asked me if I placed them there. I happily explained, "yes, i did. And when I'm done photographing them, I leave them there for people to take." He said it was cool.


They got such attention that as soon as I walked away people were walking up to them reading them and some took some. I shot some video of people's reactions. But then I think people felt awkward cuz there was this dude standing in the distance with a tripod in hand and a camera pointing at them for more then just a couple seconds.


I moved over to the gate and placed my camera on top of the bridge gate box and simply let my camera record. I still have to go back and edit that video, as I wasn't watching people. I wanted them to feel natural to approach the artwork and take it.


As I was letting my camera record video, I pulled out my cell phone to make it look normal that I was just standing there hanging out. So what do I pull up on my iPhone? My favorite time-filler of the past couple months, Instagram.


As I'm looking through the Instagram feed, I saw that lokate posted a photo of bouncy balls! With a message to me! Yaaaay! What a great surprise! And all while I was videotaping people picking up bouncy balls! I was so happy to see the photo, I was bouncing up and down like a bouncy ball. :-)





"Have a ball today" reads on one side of the signs. "Pass it along" reads on the flip side of each sign. This is the first time I used the phrase "Pass it along" on the backside of the bouncy ball signs.


As I was writing out the little signs with "Have a ball today" I was thinking of putting an email address on the back of the sign for people to email me, if they wish. And then thinking about that sort of interactivity, what I really want with this project is for people to share the bouncy balls. Just as I shared these with the finder, I would love for the finder to share it with others.


This project is about finding something fun. And having fun with it. I absolutely love bouncy balls. They are fun to just bounce around while walking. Or to bounce in the elevator.


Brainstorm for this project:


Bouncy balls on the train:


Bouncy balls on escalators:


Bouncy balls elevator challenge (WEBCOMIC):


Bouncy balls left in public (PHOTOS):


Bouncy balls left in public (VIDESO):





The sculpture that these bouncy balls are sitting on is a relief by James Earle Fraser named "Discoverers."


. . . .



The discoverers commemorates four European explorers who passed through the Chicago area in the late 1600's. Louis Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette were the first non-native people known to explore the map of Mississippi River system. The traveled down the Chicago River in 1674 on their return to the Great Lakes from the Mississippi Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur De LaSalle and Henri De Tonti explored the entire Mississippi River basin between 1679 and 1682.


Below the sculptural bas relief is inscribed ...

"The Discoverers - Jolliet, Father Marquette, La Salle, and Tonti will live in American history as fearless explorers who made their way through the Great Lakes and across this watershed to the Mississippi in the late seventeenth century and typify the spirit of brave adventure which has always been firmly planted in the character of the middle west.

Presented to the city by William Wrigley Jr., 1928."

. . . .


The sculpture is also a favorite place of mine to leave public artwork.


Hi-res print available at

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Taken on June 27, 2011