A MYSTERY IS SOLVED
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Little did Parkies know on March 25 when they skated at Wollman Rink for the "Parks Evening of Ice Skating" that a mystery was unfolding. A few weeks earlier, Parks had been notified that a painting that had hung there for decades was mysteriously missing from the walls at Wollman Rink.
Jonathan Kuhn, Director of Art and Antiquities, received a telephone call reporting the painting’s disappearance from Helen Bernstein Fealy, the great niece of Kate Wollman. In 1949, Kate Wollman, a philanthropist, donated $600,000 for the original construction of the ice skating rink in Central Park. The entire project cost $750,000. Its ice was first skated upon in December of 1950 and Wollman Rink was named in memory of Kate’s parents and four brothers.
The particular painting that was discovered missing in March was a portrait of Betty Kohn Wollman, Kate Wollman’s mother. It had been painted in 1952 based on a photograph of Betty taken before she passed away in 1927. It hung near the skate rental section of the facility for decades and its disappearance was noticed by Fealy’s son, James Bernstein, who took his family to ice skate and also to see the painting in early March.
At this point in the case of the missing portrait Ron Lieberman, the Director of Concessions and the Parks Advocate’s office took charge of the mystery. The Advocate, responsible for doing internal and external investigations for Parks, worked their magic and found the painting.
It was discovered in a crate in the storage of the Makkos Organization, the previous concessionaire of Wollman Rink. Without knowing it, they had packed up the painting upon moving out last fall. The Trump Organization took over Wollman Rink beginning November 1. Another Wollman descendent, Bill Golden, has generously offered to have the portrait and frame restored and it will be returned to its hanging place in the rink shortly.
"I was disappointed that I was not able to show the portrait to my family when we went to Wollman Rink in early March," said James Bernstein, great great grandson of Betty Wollman. "But I was so happy when I had learned that the Parks Department had found it."
The portrait was returned to Parks on April 26. On May 7, Helen Bernstein Fealy and James Bernstein met with Assistant Commissioner Joanne Imohiosen, Ron Lieberman, Jonathon Kuhn, and Charles Kloth. Betty Wollman’s descendents were assured that the painting was back in safe hands and were pleased to be able to see it again.
Wollman Rink is one of six skating rinks on Parks property. Before it was built, New Yorkers skated on the lake just 10 blocks north. Officials there used red flags to signal to the public that the ice was strong enough for skating. During its first year in operation, 300,000 people had fun at Wollman Rink and now an average of 4,000 people skate daily.
THIRTEEN YEARS AGO IN THE PLANT
(Wednesday, May 30, 1989)
PARKS SPONSORS MURAL PAINTING AT BROOKLYN POOLS
Parks invites New Yorkers to join professional artists as they paint murals at four pools in Brooklyn during June. The theme of the murals, a project coordinated by Oarks’ Recreation Division, will be tropical fish and underwater scenes.
Mural painting will be open to everyone seven years and old. Professional artists will teach drawing and painting skills to participants.
"The pools are a great place to make a splash with painst as well as with water," said Joanne Kaplan, Manager of Recreation in Brooklyn. According to Kaplan, the mural-painting projects will set the stage for a series of arts and crafts projects that will take place in Brooklyn pools this summer.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King, Jr.