This month's critical mass...
Walgreens is going to topple over a beloved public sculpture to make way for yet another "convenience" store filled with junk food to make you sick and medicines to put you back together again. Concordia Realty Management is their partner in this culture crime in progress, but public resistance is mounting to keep Cermak Plaza’s iconic Spindle statue standing.
The Spindle, aka Car Spike or Kabob, was created by California-based artist Dustin Shuler. His sculpture is the most notable of a variety of giant public art works that give Berwyn's Cermak Plaza it's unique charm. The car spike was featured in a memorable scene in the movie "Wayne's World", which helped cement the sculpture as an American icon and put Berwyn Illinois on the pop culture map, so it's pretty easy to see why local residents are angry about corporate interests erasing their town's identity.
Berwyn, we feel your pain and Chicago Critical Mass is sending a cavalry of 2,000 cyclists to protest predatory corporate development that whitewashes our communities and trades civic pride for shareholder profits. When the Spindle is torn down and replaced by a Walgreens store, part of Berwyn dies and a sacred community space will look no different from any other stripmall in any other town. The participants of Chicago's Critical Mass will not quietly pedal by as corporations deface our communities transforming the world into a characterless monoculture.
Why would a group of cyclists care about a monument to car culture?
Perhaps we see the Spindle as a prophetic symbol of a future where cars are reduced to fossil remains as they go the way of the dinosaurs that fueled them. We know the car spike will become more meaningful and infinitely more valuable when America finally closes this dark chapter of unsustainable living and ecological destruction. It is an Ozymandias for the industrial age, mocking the moral insanity of planned obsolescence and providing a deliciously twisted look into our throw away junk culture.
Now the dark forces of indifference, convenience, and profit are conspiring to dispose of this great work of art, but what Walgreens and Concordia Realty Management have not bargained for is that great art connects with people in subtly profound ways as we emotionally connect with our cultural landscape and develop a sense of pride for the spaces and places we call home.
Chicago Critical Mass bike rides have been gathering at the base of the Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza the last Friday of every month for the last 10 years, we understand how public art and places can galvanize a community. If some greedy developer and heartless corporation came along and tried to take our sculpture and plaza, we would raise hell. We feel strongly enough about these values that we are biking from the Picasso to the Spindle to give the citizens of Berwyn the back up they need to preserve our cultural heritage and save an important work of art.
What we want: an end to cultural identity theft.
If Walgreens and Concordia Realty Management want to move the Spindle, they should pay for it's restoration, transportation, and installation. It's time corporations stop turning our communities into company towns that resemble board games filled with generic pop-up box stores that make every city and town look the same.
We invite the citizens of Berwyn to join us at the base of the Spindle this Friday July 27 around 7:30pm. We are working to help you get the story out and to make corporations and developers accountable to the communities they claim to serve.
Act now by signing the Save the Spindle Petition at the website for the Berwyn Arts Council. Fund raising T-Shirts are available at SWF Products, 7003 Ogden, Berwyn IL 60402. Click here to stay informed on the latest efforts to Save the Spindle!
Critical Mass Participant and Website Volunteer
July 22, 2007