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 CentersOwen Dolen Recreation Center

Due to upcoming construction on the roof of Owen Dolen Recreation Center, the center will be closed to the public for approximately 18 months, starting on Monday, April 8, 2019. This work will address long-needed repairs and improvements. It will require extensive scaffolding along the exterior of the building; will require staging of building materials on the property; and will impact pick-up and drop-off at the recreation center. This work and related closure, will also impact summer camp at this location. We are committed to the needs of this Bronx community, and it is important to note that NYC Parks Summer Camp and general member-based access will be available to Owen Dolen Recreation Center members at nearby centers, including St. Mary's, St. James, Williamsbridge Oval, and Hunt's Point. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time. Should you have questions or comments, please feel free contact the Owen Dolen Recreation Center and Bronx Recreation leadership at 718-822-4282.

  • Building
  • Owen DOlen Golden Age Center

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