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Controversial Chevron Sculpture Comes Down, But Only Temporarily

By Paul Biasco | June 11, 2013 1:45pm
 Chevron, the big blue statue along Armitage at Burling, was being taken down Tuesday afternoon, but only temporarily so the owner can move the statue back five feet.
Big Blue Statue Lincoln Park
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LINCOLN PARK — A controversial towering blue sculpture on Armitage Avenue was being taken down Tuesday to the delight of some neighbors, but the move was only temporary, according to construction crew employees at the site.

Chevron, an iron sculpture that has its own Facebook page, is being taken down so that crews can pour a new cement foundation for the sculpture 5 feet away from the sidewalk, as one of the common complaints was that it hung over the sidewalk.

It was not clear how long the sculpture would be off the site or where it was going.

The move came a week after the city filed a lawsuit against John Novak, owner of the home and statue.

The public nuisance suit filed by the city claimed the 8-foot brick wall surrounding the home "threatens the character of the area," and that the sculpture and wall "are a blight on the neighborhood," according to an ABC7 report.

Those who live near the sculpture have complained not only that it is an eyesore, but they fear it will hurt their property values.

The windmill-like statue at Burling Street and Armitage Avenue is visible blocks away behind the 8-foot brick wall that surrounds the property.

"We've seen this atrocity since it went up in 2011," said Janet Brookman, who lives two blocks north of the sculpture. "I hope they take it down."

That sentiment is not shared by the whole neighborhood.

As one longtime resident points out, the three-story house and sculpture are an upgrade from what was on the site before Novak moved in.

For at least 30 years, said neighborhood resident Bruce Farley, one of the two lots on which the home was built was vacant, and a dilapidated, boarded up house was situated on the other.

"They sat like that, vacant and boarded up, for 30 years, probably 40," said Farley, who has owned a three-flat across the street since 1961. "That's a big improvement."

The sculpture, which was created by famed artist John Henry, was originally headed to Northern Illinois University as part of a deal between Novak and Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), but Novak backed out of that deal on the day of the hearing.

The deal would have allowed Novak, who owns Novak Construction, to keep the taller-than-code 8-foot wall that surrounds his home.

Smith did not return requests for comment.

For Farley, taking down the statue could be a huge mistake for the block.

"People didn't like the Picasso when it went up in Daley Plaza," he said. "We could have lines to look at this thing in the future. Who knows?"