Public Art on the Cusp

Mural at 50 Main Street by Raymond Saa

June may be “busting out all over” in Westchester, but so is public art. Developers are teaming up with ArtsWestchester to commission temporary and permanent murals, and sculptures in downtown White Plains. All this creative activity coalesces in a five-day Serious Fun Arts Fest, taking place in White Plains from October 12-16.

The truth is, public art is a long time tradition in Westchester, which is currently being reinvented. We all have enjoyed the PepsiCo sculpture garden, established by the PepsiCo President Donald Kendall in 1965. It features such iconic 20th century artists as Alexander Calder, Henry Moore and Louise Nevelson. One can roam the grounds of the PepsiCo landscape and steep themselves in the most glorious examples of 20th century sculpture arranged in tandem with a garden design by Russell Page, which is in itself a work of art.

Not far away, actually across the street, is the phenomenal Henry Moore sculpture “The Large Forms,” which heralds the iconic Nelson Rockefeller at SUNY Purchase College, renowned for its programs in art, music, theater and dance. Nature was important to Henry Moore, and his work is often associated with shapes that are similar to the rolling hills near his childhood home. Also, iconic on the SUNY Purchase campus is Andy Goldsworthy’s “East Coast Cairn.”

Given this historic legacy of public art in Westchester, it is no wonder that artists and developers in Westchester have gathered together to expand its footprint in public art. 

Now the Serious Fun Arts Fest touts White Plains as a major cultural destination, which earns it the designation as an “I Love New York” event. In fact, the festival is organized by ArtsWestchester, with a major grant from I LOVE NY/New York State’s Division of Tourism through the state’s Regional Economic development Council initiative. It has also received major sponsorship from Montefiore Einstein.  Visitors will approach White Plains from the North and South via the Metro North train station, which has recently undergone a $93 Million restoration. The art sightings begin right there. The station includes an extraordinary work of art in the lobby of the train station by artist Barbra Takenaga.

Leading the charge to bring the new public art to this major city is Martin Ginsburg of GDC, Ginsburg Development Companies. He has filled his corporate offices at 50 Main Street with original artwork in partnership with ArtsWestchester. The crowning piece is a sculpture at the entrance of 50 Main by a Bulgarian sculptor named Georgi Minchev, who is a professor of Sculpture and Theoretical Disciplines at St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Turnovo.

Following in the footsteps of GDC is a newcomer to the White Plains community: LMC has dabbled elsewhere in its residential portfolio with public art, and their love of murals will come into full focus at their new 400-unit residential and retail complex The Mitchell on Mamaroneck Avenue. A nine-story mural designed by artist Bianca Romero, is planned for its Mamaroneck façade.