Elaine Place giraffes replaced, won't return

  • Night in Tunisia, the replacement for the giraffe sculptures at Elaine Place, being installed.
Night in Tunisia, the replacement for the giraffe sculptures at Elaine… (Ald. Tom Tunney's office )
June 19, 2013|By Mick Swasko, @swasko | RedEye

The sun has set for a return of the Elaine Place giraffes, and now it’s “Night in Tunisia.”

A new piece of art sponsored by Chicago Apartment Finders was installed Tuesday as part of the Chicago Sculpture Exhibit -- a nonprofit organization that sponsors sculptures in Lakeview and Lincoln Park -- at Elaine Place and Roscoe Street, where a pair of large giraffe sculptures had previously stood since 1978. The giraffes were removed in November, when Chicago Apartment Finders purchased the property. 

Erin Duffy, community outreach coordinator for Ald. Tom Tunney’s (44th) office, said the asking price of $45,000 for each giraffe proved to be too much to return them to their original spots. The sculptures are the work of Chicago artist John “Jack” Kearney. Duffy said the sculptures owner, Milton Zale, had previously indicated he would donate them to a museum. He had also previously said he would sell them only if they were restored to their original location. 

The replacement is “Night in Tunisia,” a sculpture by Chicago artist Ron Gard. A sculpture by the name has been on display in the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park. A description of the installation on the park's site reads “[Gard] used the idea of unrequited or failed love as the theme for his sculpture. Within the piece there is a tension between its two forms, one 'attempting to break free, the other wanting to remain attached.' The working title of the sculpture was “Last Embrace” until, while listening to the music of Dizzy Gillespie, Gard heard the song 'Night in Tunisia' and chose that title instead for his composition.”

Duffy said she has already received some feedback on the new installment, mostly frustration that the giraffes will not return. When the pieces were removed in November, many took to social media to protest what they said were fixtures of the community.

“I know a lot of residents wanted to see some type of sculpture in that place,” she said.

Since the installation is a part of the Chicago Sculpture Exhibit, the sculptures will be replaced annually.

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