Spindle (sculpture)

Coordinates: 41°50′59″N 87°48′05″W / 41.8497°N 87.8014°W / 41.8497; -87.8014
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ArtistDustin Shuler
Dimensions15 m (50 ft)
Conditiondemolished in 2008
LocationCermak Plaza, Berwyn, Illinois
Coordinates41°50′59″N 87°48′05″W / 41.8497°N 87.8014°W / 41.8497; -87.8014

Spindle was a sculpture created in 1989 by artist Dustin Shuler (1948–2010).[1] It consisted of a 50-foot spike with eight cars impaled on it[2] in a manner reminiscent of documents on a desk spindle.


From 1989, until its demolition on May 2, 2008, it was located in the car park of Cermak Plaza shopping center, at the corner of Cermak Road and Harlem Avenue (Illinois Route 43) in Berwyn, Illinois.[3]

It was originally commissioned by the shopping center developer and owner, David Bermant, a collector of modern art who also donated his BMW car to be placed second from the top of the sculpture.[4] Shuler himself owned the red 1967 VW Beetle that crowned the sculpture.[5] The foundation of the sculpture reached nearly 30 feet into the ground; the cost of erecting it was over $75,000.[6] The sculpture has been featured in the film Wayne's World, on the cover of a book,[7] on postcards, state tourist brochures, and maps. On August 28, 2007, it was featured in the syndicated comic strip Zippy the Pinhead.[8]

The impaled cars on the spindle, from top to bottom, were:

  1. 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, red
  2. 1976 BMW 2002, silver blue; license plate "DAVE"
  3. 1981 Ford Escort, blue
  4. 1974 or 1973 Mercury Capri, green
  5. 1978 Ford Mustang II, white over blue
  6. 1981 Pontiac Grand Prix, maroon or burgundy
  7. 1980 or 1979 Ford LTD, light yellow
  8. 1981 or 1979 Mercury Grand Marquis, black
Spindle being disassembled on May 2, 2008.
Spindle being disassembled on May 2, 2008.

Although the Pop Art installation was emblematic of Berwyn for two decades, it was not universally loved in its hometown. Just the presentation of the plans for its erection drew scathing debate in the city council, although no permit was really needed for artwork erected on private property.[9] Throughout its existence, the sculpture was controversial amongst Berwyn residents, and in 1990 they voted overwhelmingly for it to be removed.[10] However, the mayor of Berwyn described the sculpture as "icon in our community",[10] and Bermant claimed that the shopping center received 30% more business than comparable shopping centers due to the quirky art around the center.[4] When Bermant died in 2000, the artwork lost one of its major defenders and the shopping center changed hands. That set the stage for the sculpture's eventual removal.

In July 2007, it was announced that the shopping center was to be partially redeveloped and that the site of the sculpture was earmarked for a new Walgreens store. Cermak Plaza already had a Walgreens but it lacked a drive-thru window, which the new structure would include. There was debate as to whether the sculpture should be relocated or simply removed due to the high cost of relocation (estimated at over $350,000). The uncertain future of the sculpture again sparked disagreement between residents who viewed it as a Berwyn landmark and those who viewed it as an eyesore.[3][11]

On July 27, 2007, Chicago Critical Mass participants rode to Spindle in an effort to raise awareness of the sculpture. About 2,000 cyclists made the 14.8 mile trek from Daley Plaza in The Loop in support of the artwork.[12]

On August 1, 2007, radio station WLUP interviewed the Berwyn mayor; the main topic of discussion was Spindle. He stated that the sculpture's removal had been pushed to September 2007, and that it would most likely be moved down the street. The sculpture was even made available for purchase in an eBay auction, which ended April 17, 2008 with no bids.[13][14]

On May 2, 2008, Robinette Demolition disassembled Spindle. A large crowd stood near the site, taking pictures. The top two cars were removed from the spike by a crane, and stored for future use. The base of the spindle was then cut, and the spindle (along with the remaining cars) was pushed over with a crane and later removed.

However, if sufficient funds can be raised, a new modified Spindle – featuring the old top two cars – may yet be erected.[15][16] A group backed by the Berwyn Route 66 Museum and Berwyn Arts Council took possession of the two cars in 2012, along with a pole from a former Anderson Ford sign, with the intention of rebuilding a slightly-shortened Spindle in the museum's parking lot.[17]

A model of this sculpture can be seen at Stratford Square Mall in Bloomingdale by the entrance to the men's restroom in the former Sears wing.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Dustin Shuler dies at 61; L.A. artist skewered cars into pop art". Los Angeles Times. 2010-05-13. Retrieved 2010-05-31.
  2. ^ "Road Cheese, Day 1". Roadside America. Retrieved 2007-07-09.
  3. ^ a b Brokamp, Cari (4 July 2007). "Car 'Spindle' coming down — whether it goes back up remains in the air". Suburban Life. GateHouse Media Inc. Retrieved 2007-07-09.
  4. ^ a b "Audio commentary by David Bermant (mp3 file)". The David Bermant collection. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-07-09.
  5. ^ "Creator of famous Spindle monument Shuler dies". Berwyn Life. GateHouse Media, Inc. 11 May 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2012.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Herrmann, Andrew (10 July 2007). "Spindle is outta here". Chicago Sun-Times. Sun-Times News Group.
  7. ^ Pohlen, Jerome (2000). Oddball Illinois: A Guide to Some Really Strange Places. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. ISBN 1-55652-371-8.
  8. ^ Bill Griffith. "Pointless?". Zippy the Pinhead. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
  9. ^ Zorn, Eric (June 7, 1989). "Berwyn Wants 'Spindle' Put On The Spike". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company.
  10. ^ a b Noel, Josh; Gregory, Ted (11 July 2007). "End of road for Berwyn icon?". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company.
  11. ^ "Berwyn's 'Spindle' car sculpture set to fall". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. 10 July 2007.
  12. ^ "Bikers back Spindle". Chicago Sun Times. Sun-Times News Group. 28 July 2007.
  13. ^ eBay item number 150235374926
  14. ^ "Look! Berwyn's Spindle Sculpture for Sale on eBay". Apartment Therapy blog. Retrieved 2014-07-14.
  15. ^ Herrmann, Andrew. "The Spindle Comes Down", Chicago Sun-Times, May 3, 2008 Archived May 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Smith, Gerry (2008-05-04). "Paying respects to 'Spindle' laid low". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-08-06.
  17. ^ Schweinberg, Brett (2007-12-10). "The Spindle returns? Group aims to bring back a Berwyn icon". Suburban Life (Berwyn, IL). Archived from the original on 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2012-09-07.