When you walk to work, moving to and from the office at a deliberate pace, you notice things that speeding drivers simply don’t see — like this curious, colorful monkey head that has recently appeared on the Third Street bridge over I-70. It looks to be made of carefully painted clay, and it is affixed directly to the concrete on walkway side of the bridge overpass.
What’s the significance of the purple monkey head? I freely admit that I gave that issue some thought as I walked by, but my analysis hasn’t gotten very far. The head has the telltale xs on its eyes that have long been a cartoon artists’ way of indicating death, drunkenness, or unconsciousness, but other than that, I found nothing to tell me the backstory of the monkey head, or why it was placed on the bridge. Google searches for drunken monkey, dead monkey, and unconscious monkey didn’t turn up anything particularly helpful, either — although the searches did cause me to become aware of the scientific theory that the human taste for alcohol has deep evolutionary roots that go all the way back to our primate ancestors consuming overripe, fermented fruit as a primary food source and the fact that the Caribbean island of St. Kitts is also known as the Island of Drunk Monkeys because of the alcoholic likings of the green vervets that were brought to the island in the 1700s. Alas, there doesn’t seem to be any connection between these stories and the purple monkey head on Columbus’ Third Street bridge.
Perhaps the monkey head is the start of some artist’s project, a la Christo, or some clever marketing campaign, where similar heads have been positioned in other parts of town and, after some kind of buzz is generated by curious people like me, we’ll learn that the monkey heads are advertising the introduction of some new restaurant or bar or rock band in the Columbus area? Or maybe the monkey head is a tribute to someone who met his maker on the bridge.
Whatever the backstory is, I’m intrigued by the monkey head on the Third Street bridge. I’d be interested in any theories about what the monkey head means, and why it is there.