Owen F. Dolen Park

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

This bronze piece by New York City artist David Saunders (b. 1954) depicts an armchair and open dictionary set on a granite boulder. The four-foot-high bronze armchair is decorated with a laurel wreath and stars and stripes while the boulder is engraved with wild boars.

The images of the wild boars are reminiscent of prehistoric cave paintings found in Lascaux, France. These are meant to suggest the emotional side of human nature, and contrast with the color plate of “Common Birds of America” that is depicted on the open page in the dictionary underneath the seat, symbolizing human objectivity. The motif of the chair is borrowed from 19th century monuments to figures of stature, who are often depicted seated and surrounded by symbols of learnedness. When the piece was unveiled the artist explained that the empty chair allows the viewer to picture him or herself in the chair; in this way Saunders creates a monument to everyone. In fact, Saunders’ piece is a homage to many works of art; the granite is from the same quarry that supplied the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty (1886) and the artist’s inspiration for the boulder comes from Frederick George Richard Roth’s (1872–1944) Balto (1925) in Central Park.

The work was the winner of the 1986 Excellence in Design Award from the New York City Art Commission and was dedicated October 20, 1987. The work was donated by the Public Art Fund, the Samuel and May Rudin Foundation, John J. Reynolds, Inc., Consolidated Edison and the Bronx Borough President’s office, and the City Department of Cultural Affairs. Saunders’ other piece in the Bronx, Firehat (1988), is an 11-foot-high aluminum relief on the façade of the Engine Company 41 firehouse at East 155th Street and Melrose Avenue. His work can also be seen in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum.


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Seat Details

  • Location: East Tremont Lane and Westchester Avenue; Westchester Square, facing Benson Street
  • Sculptor: David Saunders
  • Description: Armchair mounted with open dictionary underneath, on engraved boulder
  • Materials: Chair and dictionary--bronze (light blue-green patina); Boulder--Stony Creek, Connecticut pink granite
  • Dimensions: Armchair H: 4'5" W: 2'5" D: 2'6"; Boulder H: 4' W: 6'8" L: 8'8"
  • Cast: ca. 1987
  • Dedicated: October 20, 1987
  • Foundry: Art Foundry, Santa Fe, NM
  • Donor: Public Art Fund; Samuel and May Rudin Foundation; John J. Reynolds, Inc., Con Edison, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Bronx Borough President's Office, NYC Council On the Arts, and National Endowment for the Arts

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

For more information, please contact Art & Antiquities at (212) 360-8163

Directions to Owen F. Dolen Park

Know Before You Go

Recreation Centers
Owen Dolen Recreation Center

Owen Dolen Recreation Center remains closed to the public until further notice. Some recreation centers are being used for COVID-19 testing and vaccination services, the Learning Bridges program, and critical seasonal training. Please visit our Recreation Centers page to find an alternate recreation center.

  • Building
  • Owen DOlen Golden Age Center

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