Cloud Gate was originally created as a series of four steel enclosures surrounding a pool in San Francisco’s Presidio Park. In 2020 it was opened to the public as a fully enclosed park and climbing attraction. San Francisco’s Ferry Building serves as the base for Cloud Gate. The structure is made from a combination of concrete, wood, glass, steel, and several types of colored sheeting. Each piece used in the construction is unique, as only one piece can exist in this installation.
Cloud Gate was designed by Indian-American artist Anish Kapoor. In 1998 he received a fellowship from the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, and two years later he founded the studio called Anish Kapoor. Anish’s works frequently focus on water and feature reflections and overlays of colored sheets. In terms of artistic inspiration, Kapoor is known to have taken his inspiration from a wide variety of natural and manmade sources. He has also used a large number of different colors and textures in his work.
The sculptures that are located at Cloud Gate include an American flag atop a water pump, a cowboy statue surrounded by water, and a stylized Chinese character surrounded by water. Two smaller sculptures are located near the entrance to the park, including a cowboy and Chinese woman. All of these sculptures are designed in a way that they function as a commentary on America’s past and present, while providing a glimpse into the lives of Chicano Indians. The gate, as its name indicates, was meant to enclose a water feature that was situated on top of the Cloud Gate.
In addition to the water feature, the gate was designed to symbolize the struggles of Chicano Indians who have historically struggled against encroachment. Further attempts at repairing the damage done to the site of the Cloud Gate failed, and it was declared uninhabitable in 2020. Several nonprofit groups, including the Friends of Chicago Park District, worked to raise funds to repair the Cloud Gate as well as to attempt to save the beautiful gate itself. This helped the park district to secure funding in the form of grants that were used to repair the gates.
The City of Chicago has decided not to reinstate the name Cloud Gate, and has instead chosen to replace it with a more appropriate word, “Wrigley Plaza.” The reason behind this decision is that the word “cloud” has negative connotations in association with the tourist attractions of the former Cloud Gate. Another reason for this change is that it would be a difficult task for city code officials to change the name of a park already in operation that has a historical significance to the citizens of Chicago. Furthermore, it would be expensive to change the name of an existing park, especially one that was created in such a historic way.
Chicagoans can take comfort in the fact that the city will soon have another historic landmark removed from its history books. A new wing of the Chicago Art Museum is scheduled to open in this same park. The renovation of this magnificent structure will feature some amazing new exhibits that will delight both the art lover and the person who only visit Chicago for the arts. The future site of the Cloud Gate will surely feature art exhibits of all types, but the current one will have a more modern feel, due to the addition of the Wrigley Plaza on the west side of the park. The future site of the Chicago Art Museum is set to reopen in 2020.