“What the hell is that? Are they trying to distract drivers more”?
This was the first comment I heard from a passerby as I watched a work crew installing L.I.C.’s newest, and arguably ugliest piece of public art. The work, commissioned by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, was first planned over two years ago. Created by artist Ohad Meromi, it cost the city a total of $515,000—over half a million dollars.
Bubblegum Man hidden around the corner on Purves street while Jackson avenue traffic is diverted.
The complete lack of any community input in the project has disturbed many neighborhood residents and leaders. The artwork itself has been criticizes by one community board member who stated: “this looks like you dug up Gumby’s grandmother and threw it on the median“.
Quickly moving Bubblegum man into position
Our own critique of this project is that the half million dollars could have been better spent on reopening the closed FDNY 261 firehouse, adding additional police patrols, street cleaning, road repair or any number of projects that would directly benefit the community.
Despite all of this, the project still moved forward, and early on the morning of November 12th, 2016 – a work crew swooped in and placed the sculpture on the median at the intersection of Jackson and 43rd Avenues. There was no announcement of when this work would take place beforehand. There was no fanfare, no politicians, nor art lovers present. The work crew diligently went about their task of lifting the sculpture from a trailer into position. Within an hour they had fled the scene as if the entire operation was one large nefarious act of state sponsored street vandalism.
Mission Complete, time to escape!