Courier-Life Publications - News & Features
February 24, 2007
New gateway For borough - Sculpture to mark entrance to Brooklyn
By Stephen Witt
The Daniel Chester French sculpture representing the borough
in front of the Brooklyn Museum.
The artist for the sculpture to serve as the Gateway to Brooklyn has
been tentatively selected, this newspaper has learned.
Williamsburg-based sculptor Brian Tolle was picked from a short list
of six artists through a selection process.
His winning sculpture idea, subject to revision, consists of a
translucent piece based on the Daniel Chester French sculptures that
once graced both sides of the Brooklyn end of the Manhattan Bridge,
according to Community Board 2 District Manager Rob Perris.
Chester French is most famous for doing the seated Lincoln sculpture
at the Lincoln memorial in Washington DC.
Perris was on the sculpture selection panel in an advisory capacity.
The original Chester French granite sculptures have since been moved
and now flank the entrance to the Brooklyn Museum.
The sculptures feature two female figures – one representing
Brooklyn and the other Manhattan – with allegorical features at
The allegorical features at the feet of the figure representing
Brooklyn include a young boy reading, a church and a lyre.
Perris said the translucent casts of the figures would be mounted on
the ends of two arms, which are on the end of a pole, and will
rotate and light up at night.
The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), which spearheaded
the selection process said the Gateway sculpture project went
through the standard public process that all Percent for Art
Approximately 35-40 artists were selected for consideration for the
project, and presented to a panel for review. The selection panel is
comprised of voting and advisory members.
Voting members included representatives from DCA, the Department of
Transportation, City Planning and the Economic Development
Corporation as well as 3 outside art professionals.
Advisory panel members included the MetroTech BID, the Downtown
Business Partnership, the Art Commission, members of the CB 2, a
representative from councilmember’s David Yassky’s office and a
representative from the Borough President’s office.
Perris said he did not know how much Tolle will make for the
commission, but noted the entire sculpture project was budgeted for
Tolle was born in 1964 in Queens, and currently lives and works in
Williamsburg. He attended Parsons School of Design, New York and
SUNY at Albany, and received his MFA from Yale University School of
Among his more well-known works is the Irish Hunger Memorial (2002),
located at Vecsey Street in Battery Park City.
The memorial simulates a rural Irish landscape by means of a sloping
grassy expanse and an abandoned cottage.
Tolle refused comment and an assistant at his gallery said he is
unable to speak about the commission for now.
The gateway to Brooklyn sculpture is part of the city’s plan in
conjunction with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s (DBP) to form a
grand entrance into Brooklyn along the Flatbush corridor from
Tillary Street going south to Hanson Place.
As such the DBP also hired the Brooklyn-based Donna Walcavage firm
to design the streetscape.
Preliminary designs call for a wide four-block median strip for the
thoroughfare, on which the sculpture will be placed at Tillary
Street, and will include trees and other plantings going south.
The streetscape will also see the sidewalks widened and some parking
©Courier-Life Publications 2007