The Politician.

The Politician: A Toy

Field review by the editors.

Cleveland, Ohio

We ran across this cheery monstrosity on the way to Cleveland's transparent woman and the stuffed carcass of Balto the Wonder Dog. "The Politician: A Toy" is a zany piece of public sculpture. It was created in 1995 by artist Billie Lawless, but the only place the city would allow it to be installed is on the front lawn of a warehouse property in a rundown neighborhood. In 2009 it was moved to the Cleveland State University campus, but they made Billie remove it in 2019 (Even though he kept it in good repair). The spurned artwork currently stands in the yard of Lawless's studio.

Close up of the mouth.

The Politician is actually quite dynamic: its wheels turn 18 hours a day; the mouth moves. According to visitor (and area resident) David Hansen:

"'The Politician: A Toy' almost didn't find a home because (no irony) the Mayor didn't care for it. Unlike Oldenburg's subtle 'Free Stamp' this piece of work screams loud and obvious insults at our elected rulers. In fact, I think it used to make noise, something like the garbled squawking of a fat, rich, white man, but I never slowed down enough to make sure it wasn't the radio.

"When I finally stopped to look at it up close this fall (and take pictures) the only sound it made was the slight squeak of the wheels spinning. The axle is made of No. 2 pencils. Its 'mouth' opens and closes swiftly and smoothly. At night you can see the television monitors in its eyes playing static. And that handle, whoa! Grab on and lead!"

The Politician: A Toy

4511 Payne Ave., Cleveland, OH
East side of the city, on the northeast corner of Payne Ave. and E. 45th St. Temporary location; may not be here for long.
Currently behind a fence. Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
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