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'Urban Buddha' Sculpture Lands In Grant Park

By David Matthews | October 25, 2016 1:37pm
 The newest sculpture in Grant Park is a 15-foot-tall wooden Buddha sending a message about deforestation. 
"Urban Buddha" in Grant Park
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DOWNTOWN — The latest sculpture in Grant Park is "Urban Buddha," a 15-foot-tall effigy meant to send a message about global deforestation.

The sculpture was installed Tuesday morning at the Grant Park Skate Park near Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road. Designed by Tibetan artist Tashi Norbu, the piece is comprised of about 3,500 pounds of reclaimed wood.

Norbu said his artwork tries to send a message about the rampant deforestation in his homeland and throughout the world. "Urban Buddha" is his first piece in the United States. 

"I'm in the world to talk about my country, what's happening," he said.

Norbu and an aide placing the Buddha's head on the statue. [All photos by DNAinfo/David Matthews]

Park officials hope the sculpture will draw visitors to the south end of the park this winter, when the skate park is closed. The new Buddha is painted in vibrant green and orange hues, and is surrounded by a circle of rocks guests can use for seats. The sculpture is inscribed with Buddhist mantras translated to mean "be the bee, not the flower," and other things.

"It's not real obvious, you have to look at it," Bob O'Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy, said Tuesday. "You want a piece people will talk about, get interested in, and learn more about. It fits well here."

O'Neill said the sculpture cost about $20,000, with Norbu, consulting firm North Branch Management, and Maywood-based ReUse Depot — which supplied the wood — paying for most of it. The Chicago Park District contributed about $2,500, O'Neill said.

The sculpture not only practices what it preaches, but is a social work "in the sense of peace, benevolent acts and expanding cultural awareness through art," Michael Dimitroff, manager of art initiatives at the park district, said in an e-mail.

The sculpture is set to stay in the park for six months, with an option for a six-month extension. 

Claire Hicking, a tourist from London, was intrigued by the sculpture while visiting the park Tuesday morning.

"Not the colors I would expect of a Buddha, but I like the concept," she said. "It stands out."

Check out the slideshow above or scroll down below for more looks at the newest art in Grant Park:

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