IT’S A HAPPY HOMECOMING FOR THE ALAMO
Despite speculation in the surrounding community that it might never be seen again, on Friday, November 18, the Alamo sculpture returned to the traffic island in East Village’s Astor Place, its residence of almost 40 years.
The return of the fully restored Alamo, often referred to as "the Cube" by area residents, did not go unnoticed. Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Department of Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall, Alamo designer Bernard "Tony" Rosenthal, Art Commission President Joyce Menschel, Cooper Union President George Campbell, Village Alliance Business Improvement District Executive Director Honi Klein, Public Art Fund President Susan Freedman, Community Board 2 Chair Maria Derr, and dozens of East Village community members and press were present at the unveiling of the restored sculpture.
The $37,000 renovation was funded by the Department of Transportation, and overseen by Versteeg Fabricators, Inc. Work included beam replacement and additional reinforcement to the statue’s base, and a cleaning and painting of both the base and cube. Drainage slots and weep holes were cut on the cube’s interior, and the inside and outside were repainted black. The interior pole was lubricated with lithium grease, making it possible for City officials and community representatives to give the cube a ceremonial spin at its homecoming party.
Parks & Recreation played a critical role in coordinating the various agencies and contractors throughout the course of this project. Project Manager George Kroenert worked closely with Versteeg Fabricators and art haulers Mariano Brothers, Inc. in removing and installing the sculpture and determining the scope of work. Chief Engineer John Natoli and Capital’s Deputy Counsel Vincent Pullo were instrumental in coordinating efforts with Versteeg Fabricators and DOT. Art & Antiquities Director Jonathan Kuhn worked with Kroenert to prepare the preliminary conservation report reviewed and approved by the Art Commission.
"The Alamo was originally installed as a temporary work of art in 1967, but almost 40 years later it remains an iconic landmark where Greenwich Village meets the East Village," said Commissioner Benepe. "We are grateful to DOT for fully funding the restoration and reinstallation that was guided by its creator, Tony Rosenthal, so that it may spin—and turn heads—for years to come."
The Alamo, then entitled Sculpture in Environment, was created by Tony Rosenthal to be placed in the small traffic triangle to the south of the Astor Place subway entrance. The geometric piece, fabricated by the Lippincott Foundry of Connecticut, consists of a sectional 15-foot Cor-ten steel cube, painted black, and poised on one corner.
Through an initiative of the students of Cooper Union, the community petitioned to have this iconic cube remain at Astor Place even after the art exhibit concluded, making it the first piece of abstract sculpture to become part of the permanent collection of public art in New York City. It was then named Alamo, by suggestion of the artist’s wife, who found the sculpture’s imposing size and "impenetrable strength" symbolic of the Alamo sanctuary of San Antonio, where thousands of Mexican soldiers attacked about 180 Texans in 1836.
The Alamo was removed earlier this year for a partial restoration, but was determined to be in need of a full restoration once that project began.
-written by Carli Smith
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"The only possibility for wildness…is in how we withhold ourselves in order to make room for it."