Summer Monuments Update: Roundabout

A Note from MAS Director of Public Art Phyllis Cohen

June 24, 2022

Last fall, graffiti was discovered on the steel structure that supports Alice Aycock’s dazzling Roundabout at the East River Pavilion. I contacted NYC Parks, knowing the best way to prevent further vandalism was to remove it and repaint it as soon as possible.

When the artwork underwent a major conservation in 2014 through the MAS Adopt-A-Monument Program, the artist specified the requisite high-performance architectural and industrial protective paint, Tnemec®, and chose an optimal brilliant color, Ablaze. As we sought the designated coating with the assistance of Jennifer Lantzas of Parks, it proved quite expensive but was paid for by MAS’s Roundabout Sculpture Maintenance Fund. In late April, it took several days of sanding off the graffiti, an arduous task, before priming and repainting the four marred beams. The work was performed by NYC Parks’ Art & Antiquities Monuments crew under the leadership of Victor Riddick. This complex project is another example of our invaluable partnership with Parks, Jonathan Kuhn, and his great staff. MAS is grateful to the entire Parks team, especially the individuals mentioned and Shena Kaufman, Administrative Parks Manager for District #8.

  • Progress photos on graffiti removal at Alice Aycock’s East River Roundabout. Photo: Phyllis Cohen.
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  • Alice Aycock’s East River Roundabout before and after its lawn restoration. Photo: Phyllis Cohen.
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Regarding the landscape, when the Pavilion was reconstructed and the lawn re-sodded a few years ago, the contractors were unable to hook up the irrigation system; causing the lawn to deteriorate from bright green to brown patches. So, the MAS, along with Friends of the East River Esplanade, reached out to public officials for help. A water solution will soon be activated. Friends of the Esplanade have been financially supporting volunteer gardening and cleanup, transforming the periphery with naturalizing bushes and wildflowers. They already enliven the space with imaginative free-family programing. from spring through fall. MAS cherishes this vital collaboration.

Finally, MAS has been advocating for restoration of the Pavilion’s original overhead lighting — disconnected during construction of the East Midtown Greenway and the Andrew Haskell Green Park capital project. The Roundabout is magical when illuminated at night and we look forward to the reconnection as part of this undertaking. To have miles of the waterfront revitalized by public artwork as a centerpiece is a thrilling contribution to the cityscape of New York.

To learn more about the Roundabout and its initial restoration by the MAS Adopt-A-Monument program, read our November 2017 Monument of the Month article.

Sincerely,

Phyllis

exterior of Grand Central Terminal at night

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