Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But for one community in Long Island City, a bright pink statue that would stand more than 8 feet tall just might not fit their vision of beauty.
At the recent Community Board 2 meeting, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs presented the newest project for the Percent for Art program that is being commissioned for Jackson Avenue and 43rd Avenue.
Since 1982, the city’s Percent for Art law has required that one percent of the budget for eligible city-funded construction projects be spent on public artwork.
For this commission, a panel convened by the agency selected Brooklyn-artist Ohad Meromi and at the Dec. 4 board meeting, the community got a preview of what is being proposed for the Long Island City site.
Meromi’s proposed sculpture is an 8.5-foot-tall, bright pink piece called “The Sunbather” which is shaped as a human figure. About $515,000 of city tax dollars will go toward the construction of the piece, made of bronze.
Although Meromi said he is “excited for the opportunity” to sculpt the piece, community board members and residents at the meeting brought up issues such as the community at large not having had the opportunity to give their input on the sculpture earlier and also the color just being a little too much.
“I personally do like the art,” said Moitri Chowdhury Savard, a community board member. “But I think the bright pink color and the size of it has been brought up by many residents of the community as too much for the area. I think it might be a little too much for a lot of the residents there.”
Resident Christian Amez, also a member of the organization Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, said he also wished the community could have been more well-represented earlier in the process. They also would have liked it if a local artist could have been chosen.
According to Sarah Reisman, director for Percent for Art, the agency presented a rough draft of a rendering to the community board’s land use committee first, and members of the board were invited.
Reisman also added that about 40 artists, including local Long Island City artists, were presented to a panel that later picked finalists. After finalists presented proposals, Meromi, who has presented pieces at the SculptureCenter and MoMA PS1, was chosen.
The sculpture’s size and color are still not finalized, but a permanent piece by Meromi is expected to be located at the site.
“I really thought the site could use color,” Meromi said about the color selection of the sculpture. “I think pink is bold and the site could use something bold.”
Now the agency will take the comments from residents and the community board comments and go back to the renderings of the sculpture. Then, the agency will present a conceptual design to the public design commission at City Hall.
“We want to know what you think, take it to consideration and take it to the design commission,” Reisman said. “We’re here to listen.”