Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 25, 1974 -- Alexander the Great Dedicates Two Sculptures

October 25, 1974 – Riding a 40-horse wagon, following a parade of elephants, clowns and circus wagons, sculptor Alexander Calder rides into the Loop to dedicate two sculptures.  As Calder’s wagon stops at the Dirksen Federal Building Plaza at Dearborn and Adams, architect Carter Manny, Jr. blows a whistle and announces, “Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages, I present to the people the one and only Alexander the Great – Sandy Calder.”  [Chicago Tribune, October 26, 1974]  The sculptor and Mayor Richard J. Daley share a gigantic pair of scissors to cut the rope surrounding the 53-foot-high Flamingo.  In his remarks His Honor calls the Loop, “one of the world’s largest outdoor museums for contemporary sculpture” before naming Calder an honorary Chicago citizen.  Arthur Sampson, head of the General Services Administration that commissioned the $350,000 sculpture, reads a letter from President Gerald Ford that calls the Federal Center sculpture “a conspicuous milestone in the federal government’s effort to create a better environment.”  The entourage continues on to Sears Tower where Calder sets in motion his 32-foot-high kinetic wall mural and delivers his only speech of the day, saying, “Mr. Arthur Wood [the board chairman of Sears, Roebuck & Company] wanted me to give it a name.  So I thought of a name.  I call it, ‘Mr. Wood’s Universe.’”

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