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Pink sculpture quietly up for approval Monday

Early rendering

Early rendering

Oct. 23, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge

The $515,000 pink sculpture planned for Jackson Avenue that sparked considerable debate last year is likely to be approved next week.

The sculpture, called “Sunbather,” will go before the Public Design Commission for final design approval on Monday morning. If approved, the sculpture will be built at the intersection of 43rd/Jackson Ave.  before the end of next year, according to the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA).

Public notification of Monday’s meeting has been minimal. The chairperson of Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee was unaware of it, and it was posted once in the City Record on Thursday. It is listed online in the PDC calendar.

The “Sunbather” has been making headlines since last year, after Community Board 2 was caught off guard when the project was presented to them at a Land Use committee meeting.

Board members said they were blindsided by the project and were upset that they had no input in the commissioning process, although a manager had attended an early panel meeting.

At the time, the DCLA declined to make design renderings publicly available, citing the committee presentation as sufficient.

At the request of the Land Use committee, DCLA additionally presented the project to the full community board in December.

Several members expressed concern over the sculpture’s size – 8 ½ feet – and its bright pink color at that meeting. They were told that the size and shade of the piece could change, and that the design is continually evolving.

However, the agency will not release up-to-date information to show the public where designs stand ahead of approval.

When asked for current design renderings, the DCLA sent the LIC Post the black-and-white image (below) that was originally presented to the Community Board, which is now almost a year old.

As they did last November, the DCLA said that updated renderings will only be released once the design is approved (after Monday’s meeting). When asked why, a spokesperson deferred to the PDC, which did not respond to inquiries as of press time.

The DCLA says it has exceeded required outreach for this project, and that the work has not significantly changed since the Conceptual Design phase – the last dedicated opportunity for public input – which ended in January.

The PDC requires advance notice from any resident wishing to testify on the artwork at Monday’s meeting, despite minimal public notice of the meeting.

Per the agenda, those wishing to testify “should contact the Design Commission immediately, so the project can be rescheduled for a formal presentation at the next appropriate public hearing, per standard procedure.”

CB 2 Land Use Chair Lisa Deller was taken aback by news of the meeting when called on Thursday.

“I am surprised,” she said, noting that she had been consistently in touch with Percent For Art – the city program that commissioned “Sunbather – and was planning a visit to the artist’s studio.

“I guess that’s the major disconnect, is that we were working with the Percent For Art program and they didn’t notify the board [of the meeting],” she said.

Deller added that she does not feel that she has enough information about the design ahead of its potential PDC approval. Regarding the fact that there is no public testimony, she said, “the Percent For Art approval process has not been very participatory.”

“Nothing has changed, so it’s really a top-down process. Could it be different in the future? We would hope,” she added.

Following controversy over “Sunbather” last winter, DCLA Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl hosted a “Cultural Town Hall” with Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer to discuss, among other topics, the sculpture and Van Bramer’s transparency legislation for Percent For Art.

This law was signed in June, and mandates online posting of all incoming projects, as well as an additional public meeting before artist selection.

“While the public comment period for ‘The Sunbather’ did yield a significant reaction from our community and over 200 people who came to our highly publicized Cultural Town Hall in March, the majority of the public supported the artist Ohad Meromi and his work,” Van Bramer said in a statement when asked for comment on this story.

“I look forward to hearing what the Public Design Commission recommends this Monday as we continue our progress in strengthening the Percent for Art program for all New Yorkers.”

rendering

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15 Comments

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AR

I think that the 1% art community fund is a great way to make sure that our community doesn’t become completely developer driven and there is an art basis still representing for the area. As far as this particular sculpture, I have no problem with size of scale or the color pink as it can be a nice juxtaposition with the green grass. However, the form of this sculpture is absolutely terrible. I looked up the artist and some of the previous sculptures were nice, but this is really bad. I’m hoping that it’s literally a bad sketch model made of play doh and will be much different.

Reply
Jm

I guess that the single thumb down, disliking the comments, is either Van Bremer or Ohad Meromi.
As of today Oct 26, 2015.

Reply
Anonymous visitor

Yeah, I noticed that too, How pathetic that this person believes there’s a defense for spending even a penny of our money on that grotesque thing. My guess is that the “thumbs-downer” is some do-nothing at the Dept of Cultural Affairs responsible for this crime and trying to cover his/her behind. Feeling proud of yourself, sweetheart? Go out and find yourself a real job like the rest of us and then come back and vote on the story.

Reply
Anonymous visitor

If that artist had any class, humility or decency, he would withdraw the sculpture from public viewing and refuse to take a penny. As for the motherf_ckers who approved this, they should all hand in their resignations. If they love his work so much, let them pass a hat around and pay for it themselves. I’m sure it would look amazing in one of their back yards.

Reply
Hmmmm

I am not a robot

But the hack of an “artist” who designed this pink turd is

As are the board members tossing local money around like crips leaves in a fall wind.

Reply
Stop the madness

This is the kind of process that causes taxpayers (voters) to go apoplectic, lose all their confidence in government, and want to take to the streets with pitchforks. To say I am disgusted with these arrogant insiders throwing my money into the wind is the greatest understatement of my lifetime. If that hideous sculpture doesn’t end up in the bottom of the East River, I’d be amazed.

Reply
ZK

I can’t believe that it was stated that most of the public supports this sculpture. I have yet to hear one person in Hunter’s Pt. say that they like or want it here. It’s absolutely ghastly and will be a total eyesore and distraction for drivers. With the traffic on that stretch of Jackson Ave, it won’t be Pepto Bismol pink for long. I predict that it will be graffitied over anyway, which could only be an improvement. I still can’t believe they didn’t use an LIC artist.

Reply
Proud Dutch Killer

I recall a number of months ago reading on LICPost about a very small girl saying to her dad, “Oh, look, Daddy, it’s pink poop.”

Wasn’t it a little boy in the old story who called out, “The Emperor’s wearing no clothes!”

This type of dreck has no redeeming quality. Just because someone was criminally corrupt or incompetent to spend more than 1 cent on this, much less a half a million, doesn’t mean that the Agency in charge gets to foist it on the residents of Long Island City.

Please, Jimmy Van Bramer, you may want to be polite to Tom Finklepearl, but as our representative don’t squandor the good will you have with your constituents by allowing this embarassment to be dumped on our neighborhood. Please!

Reply
Jm

Amazing how the artistic community of LIC is ignored! An outsider… from Brooklyn has to be the winner???? Where is the connection???

Reply
JC

Totally outrageous. Half a million for something that we do not want/need? I can name at least a dozen vital projects that this community could actually benefit from.

Reply
William

Unbelievably outrageous. The fact that $515,000 in taxpayer money is being spent on this sculpture (whatever one thinks of its aesthetic) is astounding. This expenditure is being made at a time when there are constant problems with mass transit in the area, most notably with the perpetually dysfunctional 7 train; shortages of teachers and resources in the local schools, resulting in oversized classes and the inability to even hire a librarian in P.S./I.S. 78; and a lack of affordable housing for many. Those in power who are responsible for making this decision need to take a careful look at basic needs in the community and how this sculpture advances anyone’s interest, besides the artist’s and their own.

Reply
Stop the madness

Being concerned about the basic needs of the community is just so bourgeois, so beneath these arrogant, greedy, monomaniacal bastards. Do you think for one second they give a crap what we lowlifes think about this?

Reply
Anonymous visitor

Either Van Bremer or someone at the DCLA must be schtupping Ohad Meromi. There’s no other way in the world to explain this theft of public money.

Reply

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