Public Art Returning to the Park

Cope by Damien Vera SculptorLast year, we spotted some nude bathers frolicking by Rye’s seashore.


By Margot Clark-Junkins


Cope by Damien Vera SculptorLast year, we spotted some nude bathers frolicking by Rye’s seashore.


To be exact, the nudes were not on the beach, where you can see lots of scantily clad people all summer long. Rather, these softly modeled figures — cast in translucent resin by Brooklyn artists Benefiel + Leichman— were strategically positioned around Rye Town Park, from the Pavilion to the Bath House to the Duck Pond. It was all part of local sculptor Bob Clyatt’s plan to bring public art to our beloved park.


“We know that good public sculpture adds excitement to our visual environment, and we have felt strong positive support from the community for the handful of installations we've been able to pull together in the last few years,” says Clyatt.


Clyatt’s own work — a giant bronze head — was used to launch the Center’s “Art on the Lawn” series last fall, directly in front of the arts center. Two sculptures have since followed, a white resin figure by Joan Benefiel and the current installation called <Color Field> by Shelley Parriott.


Now the two organizations, Rye Town Park and The Rye Arts Center, have joined forces to bring public art back to the park. The Rye Town Park Commission, made up of representatives from the Town of Rye, the City of Rye, Rye Brook, and Port Chester, is in the process of figuring out a way to bring an exciting new work to the park in the coming months.


Clyatt and Meg Rodriguez, RAC Executive Director, are hoping all the stars will soon align to make this a reality. A successful precedent has already been set, Clyatt points out. “It’s normal in other cities of our demographic and size to see public art initiatives embraced by the community and percent-for-the-arts programs.” White Plains has some excellent examples and certainly many can be found throughout the Metropolitan area.


Cope, a soaring black steel sculpture by Damien Vera that seems to echo the sails of a boat or perhaps the choppy action of waves, will be loaned by the artist to Rye Town Park. It was exhibited from June 2012 to June 2013 in Riverside Park South on Manhattan’s West Side.


While there are costs associated with its installation and removal, it will be well worth the effort, says Clyatt, if we can enlist both public support and donors. “Public art, like intelligent urban planning or innovative architecture, binds us together in a stronger shared experience of living.”   


To lend your support to the project, contact Meg Rodriguez at 967-0700. 



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