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Controversial pink sculpture, to be placed on Jackson Ave., about to go up


Nov. 10, 2016 By Christian Murray

The controversial pink sculpture planned for the median at the intersection of Jackson Avenue and 43rd Avenue is about to go up, according to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer in a Facebook post today.

The 8 ½-foot-tall sculpture, called the Sunbather, comes at a cost of $515,000 and is part of the Department of Cultural Affairs ‘Percent for Art’ initiative.

The DCLA selected the sculpture, which will be permanent, based on the opinion of an expert panel.  The public art is required since New York law requires that one percent of the budget for City-funded construction projects be spent on public art.

The sculpture sparked a heated discussion when Community Board 2’s land use committee first heard of the plan and saw the design at a November 2014 committee meeting.

The committee members said they felt caught off guard by the proposal and were upset that they did not have more input in the design.

Penny Lee, who works with the Department of City Planning, told the committee at the time that the artwork was “not just a whimsical piece he [the artist] came with up. It may look whimsical but an enormous amount of thought and attention to place was put into the design.”

Estimated costs

However, one board member who claimed to be 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.”

The DCLA after that meeting declined to make the renderings of the design public, claiming that presenting them via a PowerPoint presentation at the committee meeting was adequate. The design was not on its website.

Other board members were concerned as to why a Long Island City artist wasn’t selected to do the work.  Artist Oham Meromi, a Brooklyn resident was selected, and is expected to be paid a little over $100,000 for his work.

Since the uproar over the sculpture, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer has passed legislation requiring the DCLA to provide advance notification on its website of projects it intends to work on, and to present the design at a public meeting in the community district where the project is to be installed.

On Facebook today, Van Bramer wrote: “While some may love this piece and some won’t, public art is vitally important to our civic life–it can bring joy, inspire contemplation, and foster community. This is a significant piece of permanent public art, which I want to see more of in New York City.”

Early rendering

Early rendering

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Click for Comments 

The FAKE MRLIC wrote the Nov. 13, post on the Bowling Alley. As for this ugly statue, I think we all have Jimmy Van Bramer to “Thank” for this Garbage. i will not vote for him


I like it! I have to admit it’s growing on me. Why shouldn’t LIC get a % for Art when every other neighborhood in the city gets it? Did it cost a lot? Yes, People are complaining about the $100,000 design fee, but this artist probably spent 2 or more years working on it, Artists have to live too in this expensive city. I think it’s a nice colorful addition to the median on an otherwise colorless Jackson Avenue. The trees are a nice addition to Jackson Avenue too. Others complain that it wasn’t a LIC artist, but LIC artists can be selected for the % of Art Program and have their art installed in other parts of the city. I’ve already seen several people stop and have their pictures taken in front of Sunbather.


The only good thing about this is that with all the traffic and construction, it’ll turn gray in no time…


What if we vote/petition for a plaque listing the project cost, names of those responsible, and a description of the non-democratic process by which this came to be. We may not have had any say in the project, but a plaque could shift the meaning of this work to be a reminder of the dangers of poor, non-democratic governance. If I get supportive replies, I’ll circulate and online petition. (I’m all for public art, btw, but not a closed door process like this.)

Il Sun Yoo

This sculpture is a hideous eye sore. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I haven’t spoken to one person who thinks this is “art.” The cost is absurd as well, and perhaps the most egregious part of this. I am going to actively campaign against JVB because of this waste. He better open about 5 schools between now and when he is up for reelection.


We had no say in this process. What about a permanent protest plaque next to the art voicing our displeasure? Would cost less that 1k and shift the meaning of this ‘art’ to a permanent, important example of poor governance. Thoughts?


Why was over $50K of the budget put aside for “contingency”? How poorly was the planning behind it?


This. Makes me sad.

There’s just so much that could have been done with that sum of money. The community has to fight so hard to get a piece of the budget for impactful value add items, yet this gets approved in the face of community opposition.

Give it a few days before this pink playdoh is covered in graffiti or decapitated and more tax dollars used to clean up/fix.

Rd. St. Dr. Ave.

I’m thinking that look on JVB’s face is “this pink art will follow me and taunt me the rest of my career.”


this is an outrage.. for far less money and a lot you could have many more talented artists creating art for public spaces…

CItizen Sucker

What a waste. A vast part of the neighborhood is constantly filthy. We don’t have garbage pails on most street corners. Bad/unsafe traffic intersections in several points in the hood but you felt $515k on art (with socrates just down the road) which will cause traffic disturbances and distract drivers, was necessary.

Thanks JVB. My vote goes to anyone not named you, next time around.


Looks even worse than the early rendering. What a shame. HALF A MILLION dollars of taxpayers money down the drain.


Actually, “down the drain” is OK because the money disappears and is forgotten. Instead, we’ll be reminded of the theft of our money every time we see that hideous thing for eternity.


My 4 year old said it looks like a person made out of bubble gum. I love public art but $100,000 artist fee paid by taxpayers without any say for an ugly pink bubble gum person. Someone should go to jail. I realize that you can’t expect everyone to agree on public art but I think we all agree on this one. Ugly.


Oh I read it wrong, only 3k for pictures and 100k design fee. Nevermind you guys, totally reasonable.


And people are protesting Trump, are you kidding me! People should be protesting over this! Spend over a half million dollars on this ugly Pepto-Bismol colored statue that does what for for the community? I know that a half million dollars would feed a lot of hungry people! We really have our morals screwed up! And Jimmy, you speak so negatively about Trump but you waste all this money on this crap. It’s shameful.


That thing should be melted down into cannons and musket balls for a revolution to overthrow the dingbats in city government.


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