Discovering Columbus: Face to Face with Ol’ Chris

Columbus Circle is an example of how New York City “ups the ante”, so to speak. We can’t just have a traffic rotary at the edge of Central Park, we turn that tricky roundabout into a destination, with enough distractions to make an already precarious driving situation even more so. There is always something going on the island of Columbus Circle. The man for whom the circle is named, for so long credited with discovering America, watches down on it all as a statue 75 feet above the ground.

He watches the seasons change, like the tulips that line the circle in the spring and the fountains that turn off for the colder months.

columbus circleLast year he made friends with visiting elephants.

columbus circle public art
These bronze beasts were part of a public art exhibit showcasing artist Peter Woytuk. [Click the image for a full article.]

 He is a spectator of both low brow and high brow performance- Columbus Circle is a haunt for skateboarders but also for ballet street performances (seriously: check out this post.)

columbus circle ballerinaHe has a great view for star-gazing, the same stars that helped him navigate across the Atlantic. Too bad in on a clear New York City night you can only see about five stars. He takes solace in the phases of the moon.

columbus circle moonTourists point up at him a say “Aw, he’s so cute!” You’d think it would be grand having a monument of yourself in New York City. Columbus has been up on this parapet at 59th Street since sculptor Gaetano Russo erected him in 1892. That’s over 100 years of pigeons pooping on his head. Rain, snow, sun- all the elements beat down on his head 24/7. A little karmic retribution for Indian massacres?

This fall the Public Art Fund decided to give the old guy a break. Artist Tatzu Nishi is known for his installations which transform the views experience of an existing monument or statue. He has built an installation around our buddy Columbus, putting him into a modern living room, complete with comfy chairs, bookcases, decor, large windows with enviable views.

Discovering Columbus NYCThe public gets up-close-and-personal with the marble statue. From the ground, he looks cute, dare I even say dinky. Face to face he is imposing, threatening, massive. A completely different story.

Discovering ColumbusIt is free to attend, though you have to register for tickets. The exhibit has been extended from November 18th to December 2, there are still plenty of free passes for this week available online: here. I highly recommend going if you live in NYC, partially because it’s a cool thing to see and when will you ever get to see something like this again? But mostly because it’s turned Columbus Circle into an eyesore for the past month.

columbus circle Discovering ColumbusThe structure housing this art is not pretty. Visiting the exhibit is the only thing to make it worth it. The security guards may try to push you out after 10 minutes to move the line along, depending on the time of day. But they’re nice about it and will take a picture of your back and Columbus’ if you ask them to.

Discovering ColumbusSo if you have a chance this week, go. Or just be thankful I went and you can live vicariously through me! If you want more, visit the Discovering Columbus Public Art Fund site which has much better pictures and much more information.

columbus circleAfter December 2nd only Columbus and pigeons will ever experience this view!

Isn’t it funny the things we get to see only in NYC? What do you think of a work of art like this?

[I hope you had a great weekend. I have to tell you, I did something very uncharacteristic over mine: I posted on a Saturday! It’s full of beautiful Central Park pictures, don’t want you to miss it, see for yourself!]

About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.