Mom, there’s a giant deer outside my window.
Actually, I don’t have a window, but the guys who rate window offices here at the Sun-Times noticed it right away Tuesday morning.
It was standing along the Riverwalk at the bend, gazing stiffly out over the river.
Of course, at 12 feet tall and 20 feet long, it was hard to miss.
Paid observers these guys.
It hadn’t been there when we left work Monday. I was sent to investigate.
I confirmed immediately that it was a deer, all right.
Very lifelike, too.
Some city workers wearing Facilities Management polos were just leaving the scene.
I asked if the deer was their handiwork. They denied it.
Did they know when it got here?
“It had to be overnight, because now they call it Deer Park,” one of them said.
Deer Park. Right across from Wolf Point.
Now, I get it. Or do I?
I approached the deer cautiously. It didn’t move. I hadn’t expected it would.
The same couldn’t be said for Liza Berkelhamer.
“She thought it was real,” said her friend, Gabby Grief, after they, too, approached for a closer look.
“I was freaking out,” Berkelhamer said.
I told them that it reminded me of a lawn sculpture you might find in some woodsy suburb, the kind that catch your attention as you drive past and momentarily fool you into thinking it’s a real deer, maybe causing you to say something stupid to your kids like, “Look, it’s a deer.”
I like deer. I don’t like those lawn sculptures.
“It’s interesting,” Berkelhamer said. “I wouldn’t say it’s like beautiful.”
Neither would I. But Satya Anne would.
“I think it’s beautiful,” Anne told me as she paused to admire it. “I think it’s very nice.”
When pressed, however, she conceded:
“Sizewise, I think it’s a little big.”
It’s very big.
As I watched, a woman with a stroller stopped to take a photo. To get the deer properly into frame, she stepped back toward the river, coming dangerously close to the knee high chain that is the only barrier between pedestrians and the river. It’s only a matter of time.
“Why a deer?” passersby kept asking me. “Is there some significance?”
I had no idea, but Sam Goldman had a theory.
“I’m sure that a couple hundred years ago these guys [meaning deer] were down by the river,” he said.
Goldman also suspected the whole thing was an afterthought for a section of the Riverwalk that I’ve always said looks incomplete as if the money ran out before they could finish.
“It feels a little bit that way,” agreed a distinguished white-haired gentleman who had stopped to appraise the sculpture and wondered if I was the artist.
With his silky European accent, I took him for a tourist or an out-of-town businessman taking a mid-day stroll.
Luckily, Sun-Times photographer Rich Hein recognized him as renowned architect Dirk Lohan, who happens to be the grandson of the famed Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
Lohan also said he thought some story might surface about how deer were seen here by the riverside in the city’s infancy.
If that’s the case, there was no mention of it later Tuesday morning when the city issued a news release about its new public art installations.
“Deer,” 2015, by artist Tony Tasset, is just one of five new pieces of art along the Riverwalk. It’s made of fiberglass, epoxy and paint.
Tasset, who is currently teaching at the University of Illinois at Chicago, displayed “Deer” for a time in Miami, where someone described it as a “garden ornament-turned Godzilla of the deer kingdom.”
We have it on loan from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., until mid-November.
You have until then to figure out if it’s a boy or girl.