If you know me, you know that love talking to strangers - it likely ends with a good story! About a year ago I met a guy who works in advertising too. His agency was collaborating with the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation to raise money for the families of fallen officers. They were looking for Chicago Artists to be commissioned by organizations willing to donate to their cause, and the horses will be displayed along Michigan Ave in a public art show through November.
By the end of this conversation, I was convinced that a horse would fit into my living room. I hadn't painted in a few years, but I felt that I needed to be a part of this cause! At a later date, I learned that the Chicago Cubs would sponsor me to paint for the first Chicago Officer that died in the line of duty. Had I known this initially, I probably would have felt too intimidated to make the agreement, but at that time all of the artists had been assigned their horses. Constable Quinn had a son who played for the Chicago White Stockings in 1903…which eventually became the Chicago Cubs in 1939 which made the Cubs an ideal sponsor.
The next Friday morning, a truck pulling a flat bed trailer with two horses arrived at my apartment. The horse was life-sized, standing roughly 7 feet tall by 8 feet long! The driver just laughed when I explained that I had expected that a horse could fit into my elevator. My backup plan was the dimly lit garage below the building.
That following Saturday my mom drove up to help me paint. We order Chinese food and sit on the cement floor laughing about how the hilarity of this situation. I live above The Publican and every time someone delivers a keg to the restaurant they jump when they turn the corner and see this giant horse where my car should be. I continued to paint after work that week and everyone I encountered in the garage was supportive. Many people were just hopeful that this was the year that the Cubs would go to the World Series. Regardless, I appreciated the company while they watched me paint and one neighbor even brought me a beer.
I painted Quinn in blue with white baseball stockings. He wore the Cubs logo on his left side, but the right side had a mane of angelic feathers with bits of history entwined. For example, he was the first officer to fall, he was a part of the 9th ward and a shamrock to represent his Irish heritage. I learned that Quinn had been beaten while attempting to make an arrest in 1853, he suffered brain injuries that took his life the following morning. His killer was sentenced to only 5 years in prison for manslaughter.
After five days of painting, I coated with a UV top coat. The delivery man returned on Friday and we load Mr. Quinn back onto the flatbed. It was surprisingly sad to watch him pull away, I felt connected to Quinn and his family after a week of researching his story. I decided to stop into the Starbucks to cheer myself before I headed into work, but as I turned to leave I saw Constable Quinn! They were unloading him from the truck across the street from my office at the Intercontinental Hotel!
It was amazing be on the 16th floor of my building and see the beautiful horses along Michigan Avenue. Thousands of people stopped to take their photo with Mr. Quinn and read his plaque. It was a great experience, and the last I heard he had been auctioned off to a new home in Arizona.