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LIC Residents Not Pleased With City-Sponsored Plan For Big Pink Sculpture

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York City is known for its public art, with city-funded sculptures on several busy avenues.

But as CBS2's Dave Carlin reported Wednesday, one proposal for Queens is drawing a major backlash.

Currently, the median next to the crosswalk for Jackson Avenue at 43rd Avenue in Long Island City, Queens may be fairly descried as blah – brown and drab.

But not everyone is enthused about the piece of sculpture set to go there. An artist's rendering depicts it as a blast of pink – 8 feet long – called "The Sunbather."

"It looks like bubblegum," said Guadalupe Vera of Long Island City.

"It looks like Play-Doh," added 7-year-old Afia Joroa.

The sculpture could be installed during in time for summer 2016. The price tag is $500,000 in city funds.

"No, no, no. That's ridiculous," said Roberto Colon of Long Island City. "That is too much."

Money comes from the Percent for Art initiative overseen by the city's Department of Cultural Affairs. Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl said the sculpture proposal was presented to Queens Community Board 2 last year, and review process is still in progress.

"The City's Percent for Art process has robust public input built into the current law, engaging community boards, City Council members, borough presidents, and local groups in the artist selection," Finkelpearl said in the statement. "The Jackson Avenue commission is still in the midst of this review process, and will go before the Public Design Commission for final approval later this year. The initial proposal was presented to Queens Community Board 2 late last year, and tonight's cultural town hall meeting is one more opportunity for the public to provide feedback on this and other issues relevant to the Long Island City community."

In the 1980s, a law was passed setting aside 1 percent of city construction funding to go for public art, but some say the selection process is too secretive.

The decision is up to the public design commission, which has not set a date for its final vote. Hoping for a vote of no is Gordon Biel, who works right across the street.

"You'll be looking out this window at it every day," said Biel, who called it "hideous."

Some said they would be tickled pink to see it in the median.

"It's colorful, nice, and it's something to look out while you're stuck in traffic," said Michael Pupkin of Woodmere, Long Island.

"I think overall, it will be something good for the neighborhood," added Sarah Siekierski.

But opponents said they don't care if it seems heartless -- they want to keep the spot artless.

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-26th) said he is drafting legislation that would make the city's selection process for public art more transparent, with more public input.


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