Cloud Gate surprised both tourists and residents alike Wednesday by sprouting a giant stalk that now looms higher than the nearby Aon Center.
According to witnesses, the famous Millennium Park sculpture – whose shape inspired its nickname, “The Bean” – suddenly cracked open and sent a huge sprout snaking skyward.
Created by internationally recognized artist Anish Kapoor, Cloud Gate’s innovative design raised numerous concerns after it was selected by a committee of park officials, artists, and architects in 1999. In addition to complaints about the feasibility of its construction and maintenance, health officials questioned the safety of planting an oversized bean in the middle of a public park.
“Although regular bean sprouts are rich in vitamins, amino acids, phytochemicals, and more, The Bean is definitely not a regular bean,” said Department of Health Commissioner Bechara Chouchair. “When construction first began on Cloud Gate, we made it clear that it could eventually pose a health risk if its shiny, mirrored surface was ever exposed to the proper combination of sunlight and moisture to induce germination.”
“Like kidney bean sprouts, which are poisonous, The Bean’s sprout could contain toxins
unique to its structure,” Chouchair said. “Until health experts have analyzed the sprout and deemed it safe for consumption, we strongly discourage anyone from attempting to harvest it.”
So far no cases of food poisoning have been reported, although three German tourists fell to their deaths when they attempted to climb the sprout.
Kapoor, who initially described the nickname given to his sculpture as “completely stupid,” now admits that there was much more to his design than even he himself realized.
“I knew I was creating a piece that would become a kind of poetic gateway between the sky and the city, but I never dreamed that it would become a literal gateway. Now The Bean is actually – not just artistically – connecting Chicago’s earthbound residents to the skies above.”
“I suppose we will have to call it ‘The Beanstalk’ now,” Kapoor joked.
As of press time, park officials were sweeping up the shattered remnants of Cloud Gate and discussing the possibility of redirecting spray from the Buckingham Fountain to water the sprout.