NEW ROCHELLE, NY — The sculpture of hammered aluminum newly placed at the Memorial Highway entrance to the New Rochelle Public Library is just the start. The piece, ‘X-Ray,’ by renowned artist Robert Lobe, was installed on Thursday and kicks off a new public art initiative by the New Rochelle Downtown Business Improvement District and arts consultant Joyce Pomeroy Schwartz to bring sculpture to locations throughout city’s commercial core.
“X-Ray is a wonderful and fascinating work of art, and it is an ideal piece to introduce our new sculpture project,” said Ralph DiBart, Executive Director of the BID. “We’re proud to exhibit it where everyone one can see it, and where it adds a thought-provoking site to the entrance to one of the most important institutions in our city – the public library. As we continue to roll out our program, visitors will continue to see more top-notch works of art in many places.”
Called “Project Sculpture: Downtown New Rochelle,” the new program will bring art works that are on loan or commissioned from the artists.
In Lobe’s works, metal sheets are “pushed and pulled” around outcroppings in the woods. X-Ray, a work from the 1990s, was created with heat-treated hammered aluminum alloy. It was transported and installed by A. Bulfamante Landscaping
“It’s named ‘X-Ray’ because it’s like focusing on what cannot be seen – a moment in time, like a ballerina poised for what comes next,” Lobe explained. “I thought this the perfect sculpture for the New Rochelle Public Library because books are lives to be lived, secrets to be unlocked, the invisible made visible. In the book – and movie – ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ books are outlawed and burned. Some people leave society and live in the woods among the trees, where each person has memorized a book to teach it to a younger person.”
The sculpture has been shown at the Greater Reston Arts Center in Reston, Virginia; The Fields Sculpture Park at Omi Arts Center in Ghent, N.Y.; the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, New Jersey; and the Sculpture Park at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Lobe’s sculptures have been represented by Willard, Blum Helman and Senior and Shopmaker galleries in New York. His works are also on view along the Chicago lakefront at the Field Museum by Soldier Field; Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey; and the Newark Museum. Find more information about Lobe’s work at www.robertlobe.com
Tom Geoffino, Director of the New Rochelle Public Library, said the building’s Memorial Highway entrance, which was recently upgraded to a more modern look with all-glass doors, is an ideal spot for the piece.
“New Rochelle Public Library is thrilled to be able to host this important sculpture in the courtyard of our newly renovated Memorial Highway entrance,” Geoffino said. “Robert Lobe is an artist of national note and his work ‘X-Ray’ speaks to our ongoing efforts to bring thoughtful public art to the attention of our residents. We are certain this initiative will create another reason to visit our busy public library.”
The newest program joins other initiatives that are expanding on the city’s long history in the arts, nurturing a growing scene in the commercial core that is seeing a historic redevelopment. Other programs include the Arts at 5 Anderson, a summer artists’ residency in a newly rehabilitated building at 5 Anderson Street, presented by the New Rochelle BID and Residency Unlimited, a Brooklyn-based organization that draws artists regionally and internationally to take part in such programs. Ongoing exhibits there, free and open to the public, fill two ground-floor apartments, a courtyard, basement space and a roof area.
For the new sculpture program, Schwartz is an ideal consulting partner, with her focus on integrating public art into urban revitalization projects and civic arts master plans.
“New Rochelle, a small urbanized city, is a unique place for public art supported by the modern patronage of government agencies, developers and local businesses,” Schwartz said. “It will flourish through active community participation, civic revitalization and awareness of the post-modernist revival of architectural ornament. Public art that at first seems different, and even provocative in the civic space, will in time become familiar, understandable and even beloved.”
As Pace Gallery Director of Commissions during the 1970s, she facilitated large-scale sculptures with artists Nevelson, Tony Smith, Von Schlegell, Noguchi and others. In 1982, she established the company “Works of Art for Public Spaces,” identifying major artists who sought to make conceptual statements in the public realm, including Alice Aycock, Vito Acconci, Romare Bearden, Jackie Ferrara, Nancy Holt, Joyce Kozloff and Sol Lewitt.
Her place-making commissions include Brian Tolle’s Irish Hunger Memorial at Battery Park City in Manhattan and Maya Lins’ Grand Rapids, Michigan downtown renewal project that included fountains, an amphitheater, an ice-skating rink and seating. Collaborating with Kotobuki Town Art in the 1990s, she brought American public artists to public spaces in Japan.
With her expertise, New Rochelle’s initiative will bring highly regarded works that captivate those who behold them, DiBart said.
“These art programs fill our corners, plazas and buildings with creative works that help us view the world around us in a new light,” DiBart said. “Keep visiting downtown New Rochelle, and soon you’ll see something new and interesting virtually everywhere you look.”