Photograph: Courtesy Junru Huang/Chicago Tribune


A series of 15 giant Chia Pet head sculptures has sprung up on Michigan Avenue. The sculptures, which are the work of the not-for-profit group Plant Green Ideas RRR and the Chicago Cultural Mile Association, aim to promote sustainability, and they range from charming to somewhat terrifying. In honor of their debut, here’s our rundown of where they stand in the pantheon of Chicago’s recent public art installations:

The Heads (2013)

Plant Green Ideas and the Chicago Cultural Mile Association hope the 11-foot-tall planting sculptures, on display this summer, will encourage passersby to think of the environment. Some of the more comical sculptures, like one with headphones and shades painted on, might do just that, but all this giant mosquito will encourage is nightmares. (h/t RedEye)

Photograph: Courtesy Junru Huang/Chicago Tribune


Golf Balls (2012)

The Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and Michael Jordan all were featured on these oversized (3 feet in diameter) golf balls displayed along Michigan Avenue when the Ryder Cup was played at the Medinah Country Club last September. But the most coveted of all, apparently, was local artist Jeff Budzban’s ball: His “Chicago’s Best” sphere, bearing the Chicago skyline and the signature of actress Jenny McCarthy, was stolen mid-exhibition from its pedestal just north of the river. 

Photograph: Courtesy Flickr


The Fridges (2010)

While most of us look in our refrigerators and find nothing to eat even when they’re full, a group of artists found in their fridges inspiration for fine art. The repurposed refrigerators, displayed in the summer of 2010 to promote ComEd’s appliance recycling program, included a hot rod, a tribute to endangered species in the Gulf of Mexico, and a fancy dog house.

Photograph: Courtesy Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune


The Eyeball (2010)

Local artist Tony Tasset’s three-story, seven-ton fiberglass sculpture, commissioned by the Chicago Loop Alliance for its annual Art Loop installation, watched over Pritzker Park at State and Van Buren Streets during the summer of 2010. Tasset hoped Eye would rival the Bean as a tourist attraction, but it was a fate the huge eye, which some found creepy, would not see. 

Photograph: Courtesy Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune


The Furniture (2001)

Hoping to replicate the success of the Cows on Parade exhibit two years earlier (see below), the city marched out more than 500 pieces of fiberglass furniture in May 2001 under the banner "Suite Home Chicago." The installation produced less couch change than the Cow Parade, but it was still widely popular, both artistically and as a source of new benches across the city. 

Photograph: Courtesy Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune


The Ping Pong Tables (2000)

It may not have been for art, necessarily, but it was just as exciting. From August to September 2000, Chicagoans and tourists could walk along the Riverwalk, onto North Avenue Beach, or even as far as O'Hare airport (among about 500 other locations) and find a ping-pong table to play on. The project revived neither the city’s storied tradition of producing great players nor the formal attire they wore, but it did generate excitement for the Chicago Ping Pong Festival’s grand tournament.

Photograph: Courtesy Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune


The Cows (1999)

A herd of more than 300 fiberglass cattle painted by local artists paraded through Chicago in 1999, and what started in America in Chicago became a worldwide phenomenon: New York, London, Tokyo and Paris, along with dozens of other cities, later joined the Cow Parade. The installation’s success was a miracle for Chicago: city officials estimate it brought in an additional $200 million in tourism.

Photograph: Courtesy Terry Harris/Chicago Tribune