Not everything is as one-of-a-kind as its made out to be. Case in point: the design formerly known as Cloud Gate, commonly known as The Bean, in Chicago’s Millennium Park. The piece is among the most Instagrammed spots in the city. A unique and definitive feature, right?
Not so much, as it turns out. The designer behind The Bean, Anish Kapoor, made a similar sculpture which has found a home down in Texas. The Cloud Column was unveiled in Houston’s Museum District on Monday. At 21,000 pounds, the giant piece of art appears to be a representation of the city’s notoriety for space-based fanfare — and while certainly as reflective and photogenic as Chicago’s Bean, Houston’s version stands upright and resembles, as Meagan Flynn described it in the Washington Post, “the alien spaceship from the movie Arrival.”
Chicago wasted no time in expressing outrage. “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,” Chicago Tribune reporter Kim Janssen wrote in a column published Tuesday.
The Houston Chronicle fired back in a piece titled “Dear Chicago: Houston’s bean is better. And so is Houston.” Digital Editor Lisa Gray got straight-up reflective. “It made me wonder: Is Chicago feeling defensive? How bad is it there, knowing that Houston is set to pass you in population, taking your spot as third-largest city in the U.S.? Are you feeling — well, to steal someone’s joke from Twitter – like a “has-bean”?
While the two sides continue to throw rivalrous lobs back and forth, the irony perhaps lies here: Cloud Gate is hardly new. Kapoor crafted it back in 2000, and until its instantly controversial installment in Houston, the structure essentially sat in slumber inside a storage shed, waiting for a city to cast its beacon of need.