Chicago-pedia: Art, television music & film

An encyclopedia of the terms that define our city. In this edition, we cover some of Chicago’s art.

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Dozens of people visit and take pictures of Cloud Gate or “The Bean” at Millennium Park, in the Loop.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Some call it “Chicago-ese,” or “Chicago-speak.” Whatever you call it, we’re capturing it here, in Chicago-pedia — highlighting our local terminology and linguistic quirks (sometimes with humor and obvious exaggeration).

PICASSO: 1. Iconic sculpture in Daley Plaza downtown.

2. World’s fanciest slide.

3. Once the most recognized piece of public art in Chicago, an honor now belonging to “The Bean” in Millennium Park.

ART: 1. The name of everyone’s uncle in Chicago.

2. What Chicago is known for — quality artwork — whether priceless paintings in the Art Institute, sculptures in our plazas and parks, or pioneering architecture that makes our skyline dazzle.

FOOTWORK: A Chicago dance originating in the early 1990s that involves moving one’s feet in rapid motion while high tempo house music runs away. “Don’t watch me, watch my feet!”

THE BEAN: Not the birth name, but Chicago’s name for the huge stainless steel sculpture unveiled in 2004 in Millennium Park. Mumbai-born sculptor Anish Kapoor — who was paid $1 million to cook up the $23 million, 110-ton object — named it “Cloud Gate” because people can walk through its center and its top will reflect the sky. But Chicago residents quickly named it “The Bean” because, well, it looks like a shiny bean. “It’s a sign of it entering the subculture at some level, and that’s good, I suppose,” Kapoor later conceded. “The Bean it shall be.”


‘Roll Bounce.’

Susan Smith/For the Sun-Times

‘ROLL BOUNCE’: One of the best Chicago-themed movies that not enough people have seen, showcasing hip-hop artist Bow Wow, roller skating and the South Side.

COUNTRY: Musical genre involving songs about warm beer, ranching and relationships gone bad that has, inexplicably, become popular in Chicago.

BOZO: In most parts of the country this word is used to denote idiocy (i.e., “Stop being such a bozo”). In Chicago, it conjures images of the beloved children’s TV show that aired for decades on WGN-TV featuring Bozo the Clown, with his sidekick Cookie.

DRILL: A style of hip-hop born on the South Side that exploded in popularity in the early part of the decade, led by artists Chief Keef (above), Lil Durk, Lil Reese, King Louie (right) and G Herbo.


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