In 2017, a Request for Proposals went out for a sculpture to be placed at the Gateway to Chinatown on a triangular plaza, where Canal and Walker Streets intersect.
A prominent architectural piece has been in the thoughts of many over the years, as an entrance to the Chinatown neighborhood, near historic Five Points.
The piece currently under consideration for The Gateway to Chinatown Project was put forth by Van Alen Institute, with a conceptual approach based on the Chinese Drum Tower ~ and appears to more broadly relate to our specific urban environment, towers throughout our city ~ like the myriad of water towers perched high on rooftops.
The artist, Lindy Lee, who is of Chinese decent, said of his rendering, “The installation relates to the mythology of China. We are trying to evoke the sense of the drum tower as well as the dragon’s voice . . . It needs to be contemporary, because we are not in China anymore.”
It is a piece that easily lends itself to social interaction, featuring hundreds of circles, intended to connect with symbols in Chinese culture. But not all in the community agree. The Dragon’s Roar has had its detractors ~ some not seeing a connection to the community, and others wishing to include Italian-American history as well. All voiced at a recent Community Board 1 meeting. The installation for the moment remains under consideration, with Community Board 3 weighing in at the next meeting scheduled for September, 2019.
This is not the first time this community stepped up to voice a negative opinion on a sculpture set to become the gateway to their community. A few years ago, the 900-pound bronze Dog-Man was commissioned by well-known artists Gillie and Marc, and was all set to be unveiled on Kimlau Square, when the curtain suddenly came down on the project.
Gateway to Chinatown, The Dragon’s Roar, is supported by NYC DOT, Chinatown Partnership, and Van Alen Institute. Stay tuned.
While you’re there, check out NYC DOT’s #SeasonalStreets, on Doyers Street in Chinatown, on view through August, 2019.