November 2014
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Archive for November, 2014

Revisiting Bolotowsky on Roosevelt Island

Prompted by the future Cornell Campus being built on Roosevelt Island, the New York Times recently profiled MAS’ work in finding and restoring a brilliant Bolotowsky mural in the Goldwater Memorial Hospital on the island. Here, Phyllis Cohen, the Director of the Adopt-a-Monument and Adopt-a-Mural programs, recounts how it was saved.

The mural painted by Bolotowsky at the Hospital for Chronic Diseases on Roosevelt Island, in 1941.

The mural painted by Bolotowsky at the Hospital for Chronic Diseases on Roosevelt Island, in 1941.

The Adopt-A-Mural Program was initiated on January 17, 1991–precisely the night that the Gulf War broke out and the air bombardment of Iraq led by the U.S. coalition began. That evening a panel of WPA scholars and friends assembled in the MAS Urban Center Gallery to discuss the extraordinary artistic achievements of the WPA and the important need to rescue many of those works from the late 1930s and 40s that had been neglected or painted over, such as the mural by the Russian-born Ilya Bolotowsky for the circular day room in Goldwater Hospital (Hospital for Chronic Diseases) on Roosevelt Island painted in 1941. The Gulf War ended four weeks later on Feb 28. But it took ten years, three mayoral administrations, countless bureaucratic changes within city agencies, and the steadfast consistency of our partners at Public Design Commission (formerly Art Commission) to return the Bolotowsky mural to public view in July 2001. It also took the shared generosity of the Judith Rothschild Foundation, Robert W. Wilson and Mike and Janet Slosberg and the Hospital itself to make this restoration possible.

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