Jim Long is a chainsaw artist that sculpts animal figures out of dead trees. The sculpture that inspired my piece is called Ol’ blue, one of two sitting in Hyde Park’s Nichols Park. It depicts a blue heron with a freshly caught fish in its beak. This sculpture was a fascination of my daughter when she was a toddler. We would walk past it on our way to and from her daycare and for some time during her early childhood it was a joyful presence in our life.
When Fringe proposed the idea of writing a piece inspired by a Chicago landmark, it did not take long for me to choose this sculpture. At the time, I was living right across from Nichol’s Park and its giant bird. The song of the blue heron is the imaginary inner ramblings of this fascinating creature, a ruminating tune that exists somewhere between the surreal and the absurd. It is for two countertenors and it is divided in three short movements.