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Big pink sculpture likely to go up on Jackson Ave, while LIC residents kept in the dark



Nov. 26, 2014 By Christian Murray

The Department of Cultural Affairs is close to erecting a bright pink, 8 ½ feet tall sculpture on Jackson Avenue.

The artwork would be located there permanently and the cost to taxpayers would be about $515,000. Furthermore, the owners of the adjacent sites have not been notified—which is typical for this type of a artwork since it is part of an arcane city program.

The Department of Cultural Affairs through its ‘Percent for Art’ initiative has selected an artist to create the piece and it is a long way in the process of getting it approved. The artwork is called “The Sunbather” which is likely to be placed on the grass median by the crosswalk near 43rd Avenue.

Public inclusion in the process has been limited—with the organization electing not to share the rendering with the greater public or with this news site. It also won’t put the rendering up online until it is approved.

“They [the renderings] are not made publicly available until the proposal has been reviewed and is approved,” said Ryan Max, a spokesman for the Department of Cultural Affairs, in a statement.

Furthermore, Community Board 2 at this time does not have a copy of the rendering. Last Thursday when the plan was presented to CB2’s Land Use committee for the first time, hard copies were not distributed. It was shown via a PowerPoint presentation.

This news site had to get a copy of the document through undisclosed sources.

The members of Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee were completely unaware of the project until Thursday—despite it being in the works for some time.

However, the manager of Community Board 2’s office had been notified of the plan and did attend one of the panel meetings held by Percent for Art. However, it is not common practice at CB2 for the manager to notify the board of all discussions and meetings.

Sara Reisman, the director for Percent for Art at the Department of Cultural Affairs, presented the artwork to the committee.

Reisman said the artwork was selected by a 3-person panel that was comprised of a member from Socrates Sculpture Park., Sculpture Center and a local artist. The artwork had been chosen from a large pool of artists.

costofpinkThe panel selected the work of Ohad Meromi, a Brooklyn-based artist, who is likely to receive a design fee of about $100,000 for the work.

One board member asked why a Long Island City artist had not been selected to do the piece who was more familiar with the neighborhood and its history.

Reisman said the decision was ultimately made by the 3-person art panel, which selected Meromi’s work.

“We saw some of his [Meromi’s] previous projects and a lot of them dealt with the figure, architecture, architecture of the body, performance—the kind of ambiguous space between performing and watching a performance,” Reisman said.

She said the artwork would be a bright pink magenta made of bronze. While it wasn’t disclosed at the meeting, the cost of the materials would be $225,000 and its installation an additional $45,600, according to records.

Penny Lee, who works with the Department of City Planning and has been involved in the project for some time, told the committee that the artwork was “not just a whimsical piece he came with up. It may look whimsical but an enormous amount of thought and attention to place was put into the design.”

However, one board member who said he is an advocate for public art didn’t appreciate these subtleties: “With art some people love it, some people hate it…but this looks like you dug up Gumby’s grandmother and threw it on the median.”

Lisa Deller, the head of the Land Use Committee, said that “One Percent for Art seems like a good thing but it does not look very attractive in the rendering in my humble opinion. You could just as well plant daffodils and people would probably be happy.”

Deller called on Reisman to present the artwork before Community Board 2’s full board meeting on December 4 in order for the entire board to get a better understanding it.

Reisman was hesitant. “This is what we attempted to do in this setting…We typically don’t do two meetings.” She then said: “If I can come, I will be there.”

Deller then asked if someone from her organization could attend if should couldn’t. Reisman responded: “Someone will be there.”

Nevertheless, since the rendering is not publicly available, only those who attend the meeting or are CB2 board members will be privy to it.

When Reisman was asked for a copy of the rendering at the Land Use committee meeting by this news outlet, she refused to provide one. “I think this (the community board meeting) is a level of publicness that will help, right?”

A representative for Percent for Art said that it has kept the community board in the loop the whole time.

“Community boards are invited to participate in Percent for Art panels – and indeed a representative from Community Board 2 attended the panel for this project earlier this spring, so they have been aware of the design and the project’s progress for a while,” Max said in a statement.

No matter, Deller was not happy with the process at Thursday’s meeting.

“Everyone at this table feels surprised that this has being going on for a long time and we have not had any input and that at the last moment they are coming in and showing us what is going there. It is very dis-empowering,” Deller said to fellow committee members after Reisman had left.

Furthermore, Deller said that when the Hunters Point Library was being designed a series of proposals were put before the community board and they were reviewed beforehand. She said the board played an active part in the selection.

“When she comes in and says ‘this is the way we do it’ I beg to differ. It has not always been this way in the past and I feel like it is a fait accompli.”

Jackson Avenue Art by sunnysidepost

email the author: [email protected]


Click for Comments 

I don’t mind the sculpture. Probably temporary. It’s certainly getting everyone talking. What I find more offensive and disgusting are the luxury condos in LIC.

Guy Walker

Where my parents live in Maine the Farnsworth Museum installed a Rbt.Indiana sculpture from the 1965 NY World’s Fair of three illuminated letters: EAT. Folks up there were mortified that tourists and hungry unsuspecting travelers would be disappointed to find no food if they stopped. I’d say you’ve got a little of that going on here with this piece and I’d say you might want to reconsider your words. Paul Cadmus said that after his Shore Leave was removed from the Navy club, he obtained more exposure than ever. That aside, by rejecting this piece, residents classify themselves.

Richard Mazda

I find the sculpture to be ugly and an inappropriate use of public money. Its also indicative of an elitist culture which is very much in evidence at times in LIC. Time and time again Queens based artists are passed over and funds are given to artists from outside the borough.

We have our own world class sculptor, Joel Shapiro – born in Sunnyside, studio in LIC who should have been commissioned by the Dept of Culture years ago to create an outstanding public piece but I wouldn’t want to see his glorious work disrespected by being stuck on a median. The dust and fumes on this part of Jackson will render the Sunbather filthy in very short order and judging by the look of it, it will be a virtual impossibility to clean all those crevices, nooks and crannies. I would give it 3 years at most before it looks like an dirty, ugly eyesore.

Even though I don’t like the sculpture I don’t think that ANY art should be placed in such a disrespectful and wholly inappropriate space.

And nearly half a million!! Whoever greenlit this has lost their minds. That kind of money could fund LIC ARTS OPEN for more than a decade and would lead to a far greater appreciation of art, support for artists and would enable far more residents to experience art than one detested work.

OR an Art Center for Queens which we desperately need but I guess when you are spending money that is not yours that commonsense is a low priority.

Renee K.

Qns Dingo!!! How can I find you on facebook? Send me a message ‘Renee Korinna’. I have a question for you.

LIC Res, you nailed it!


Public art is important. The goal should be to create a space or thing most people find engaging (like works found in the subway). Enabling a few to validate their personal artistic tastes with our children’s school money and to arbitrarily place that work in spaces people cannot access (a median), has nothing to do with public art.


This is great! But face it, the yuppies who would be annoyed by this sticky pink bubblegum creature never go this far west.

Amadeo Plaza

Being as I DO love right by this intersection, and pass it regularly, I can’t say that I’m happy. I knew that some kind of sculpture was going to go up. But we weren’t told what or when. If I had have known it was THIS, I would have immediately objected. Something this…alternative, for lack of a better word, being placed out in public, should have been run by the community first. Especially considering how many tax dollars are being used.

Qns Dingo

In response to Anon, Ryan Max, spokesman for the Department of Cultural Affairs, said the reason these renderings were not made publicly available yet is because the proposal has not been reviewed or approved yet (the author of this article wrote that they only received it through undisclosed sources). That means there is absolutely still time to stop this madness. The Queens art community should come out in opposition of this un-inclusive, ridiculous proposal at the next CB2 meeting on 12/04 at 7pm. The art group is scheduled to present then.


This money could have gone to completing the still unfinished (for years now) Hunters Point Library.


While public art can be wonderful, this seems like an absurd waste of money and is rather infuriating considering that the community was left out of the decision. It seems it is too late in the process now to halt this insanity, however maybe some official action can still be taken to stop this. If nothing else, the very closed process that was employed here needs to be thoroughly investigated and definitely changed.

LIC mamma

My kid goes to the local school in LIC and they don’t have art in school. That money could have employed several art teachers and provide supplies for the kids, rather than have parents and teachers pay out of pocket.


With all due respect to the artist who create this… this probably is the worst piece of crap I have ever seen in my entire life, and I’ve seen a lot. There is an obvious business behind this, someone have to respond to this waste of half millon dollars.


Sorry, the artist/conman who created this does not deserve “all due respect” from anyone.


Omg how ridiculously hideous is this! And 450,000 in taxpayers money will go towards this crap! Oh geez please put me off the freaken books immediately!

Qns Dingo

So let me get this straight…a Queens panel composed of representatives from Socrates Park, the Sculpture Center, and an anonymous Long Island City resident, voted to give $450,000 of our tax dollars to an artist from Brooklyn to install a questionable work of art in Long Island City?

This doesn’t sound like any of these representatives had what was best for Queens in mind. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the work of a certain someone from The Chocolate Factory. They’re accustomed to giving out-of-borough artists funding from local electeds who promised to act in the interests of their district. It shocks me that the Department of Cultural Affairs, of whom the person I’m thinking of has strong ties to, would give this a green light without extensive community input. If this passes, it would be a $450,000 slap in the face to residents of Long Island City, and if any CB2 members had really been notified and made aware of the project ahead of time, then whomever let it continue is slapping us in the face as well, and should not be representing the community at all.


So there’s an artist commissioned to create this work – from city funds, at a huge cost to taxpayers – and it’s not even someone from the community? Where did this pool of artist come from?

Who are these committee people?

Was stevie wonder on the board? Just glad it’s not somewhere I regularly go in the hood. Looks like someone’s used bubble gum. If it costs tax paper money, tax payers should get a vote!


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