The Statue Man
You may have seen him downtown. A short man with a snap brim hat, he resembles a Leprechaun, except that from head to toe—clothes, skin, hat and shoes—he is painted silver. He is the statue man. His job is to stand or sit downtown, perfectly still, like a statue, until you approach him, when he may move just slightly. The idea of the living statue, or tableau vivant, has been around since the days of the Renaissance, and a competition is held every year for the best living statue in The Netherlands. In Chicago, you also have other human statues like the Original Tin Man and the old Copper Cowboy. But unlike the Original Tin Man, who gains attention by doing a Michael Jackson-type dance, the “real” statue man will sit, not moving a muscle for what seems like hours. What you may not see is that he gets on the Montrose stop of the Blue Line at 7am. Oftentimes he can be seen trudging off as late as ten at night. He works, sitting in the hot sun, cold and rain, for as long as fifteen hours, then walks home, tired, always alone, talking to no one. You wonder—does he take the silver paint off every night? Does he sleep in his costume? Watching him at the train station, you know one thing though. He is not a statue. He is a person.
Best of Chicago 2013