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Prospect Park

Peter & Willie map_it


This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This piece, featuring bronze figures of a boy reading a book with his dog on a contoured basalt boulder, sits in Prospect Park’s Imagination Playground near the Lincoln Road Entrance. The play sculpture, funded by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and inspired by Keats’ book Peter’s Chair, was created by African American artist and Brooklyn resident Otto Neals.

Born on December 11, 1930 in Lake City, South Carolina, Neals developed an early interest in art with the guidance of an older cousin. Though he attended both the Brooklyn Museum Art School and Bob Blackburn’s Printmaking Workshop in Manhattan, Neals was largely self-taught and honed his skills while dedicating 36 years to the United States Postal Service. His “Spirit of ‘76” wood carving, a piece crafted from a discarded mahogany and oak postal table, is permanently displayed at the main entrance of the Brooklyn General Post Office.

Neals has also exhibited in nationwide galleries, museums, libraries, and universities, and he is a co-director and founding member of the Association of Caribbean American Artists-ACAA Art Gallery. This non-profit, Brooklyn-based organization promotes the work of African, Caribbean, and African American artists and supports Pan-American and African partnerships.

This sculpture was placed as part of the construction of the $800,000 capital project that affords children an interactive spot to read books and to hear or act out stories. The sculpture was unveiled at the playground’s grand opening in June 1997.

Peter & Willie Details

  • Location: Imagination Playground, Ocean Avenue and Lincoln Road
  • Sculptor: Otto Neals
  • Description: Two figures and chair on a natural boulder, mosaic play surface
  • Materials: Figures--bronze; boulder--basalt; play surface--ceramic
  • Dimensions: boulder = approx. w. 9' x d. 4'
  • Cast: 1997
  • Dedicated: June 20, 1997
  • Foundry: Bedi-Makky Art Foundry, 227 India Street Greenpoint, Brooklyn
  • Donor: Ezra Jack Keats Foundation (sculpture only)

Please note, the NAME field includes a primary designation as well as alternate namings often in common or popular usage. The DEDICATED field refers to the most recent dedication, most often, but not necessarily the original dedication date. If the monument did not have a formal dedication, the year listed reflects the date of installation.

For more information, please contact Art & Antiquities at (212) 360-8143

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ParkProspect Park

The Prospect Park Well House is under reconstruction in order to build a new composting latrine. The park remains open while the building gets reconstructed.
Anticipated Completion: Winter 2015

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