Covering Battery Park City

BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER  |  Library lions proposal hits snag: For several years, some residents of Battery Park City including Community Board 1 members Tom Goodkind and Dennis Gault have been hoping that sculptor Tom Otterness would create lions to be placed in front of the Battery Park City branch library. Otterness’ sculpture, “The Real World” in Rockefeller Park has been delighting children and adults since it was unveiled in 1992 and proponents of the lion project thought he would bring the same irony and whimsy to a family of B.P.C. lions and cubs that would dress up a rather plain stretch of North End Avenue.

Otterness agreed to design some lions and on April 5 presented drawings and a mock-up to C.B.1’s B.P.C. Committee. He said a donor who wished to remain anonymous was willing to fund the lions at an estimated cost of $750,000. After extensive discussion, the committee passed a resolution supporting the project and it was affirmed by C.B. 1’s full board at its monthly meeting on April 26.

Now, however, after weeks of silence comes word from the Battery Park City Authority, which has jurisdiction over what can be placed on North End Avenue, that the lion project could be dead in the water.

“We will not accept a donation from an anonymous source,” said Anne Fenton, assistant to B.P.C.A. president Gayle Horwitz. “If the donor is revealed, the proper process will have to take place including applying for a permit.  The donor would have to be made public. The process and transaction must be transparent.”

Leticia Remauro, a spokesperson for the B.P.C.A., elaborated.

“Public Authority law requires full transparency of all transactions,” said Remauro — which might mean the end of the story.

Swedish Midsummer Festival:
Maidens with wreaths of flowers in their hair, elders in traditional costumes, fiddlers, singers and dancers will all celebrate Midsummer’s Eve on Friday, June 24 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the 15th annual Swedish Midsummer Festival at Battery Park City’s Wagner Park. As tradition dictates, a midsummer pole will be decorated with greens (a nod to pagan fertility rites) and there will be armfuls of flowers for wreath weaving. There are supposed to be seven different kinds of flowers in each garland and it is said that if a young woman puts the flowers under her pillow on Midsummer’s Eve, she will dream of her future husband.

The annual Swedish Midsummer Festival takes place in Battery Park City’s Wagner Park on June 24 with Swedish music, dancing, food, games and wreath making. A maypole, always part of the festivities, may be a holdover from pagan traditions having to do with fertility and rebirth. Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

The timing of the holiday coincides with the Feast of St. John the Baptist, which takes place on June 24. The Swedish midsummer celebration represents a melding of ancient and Christian customs.

This year, the Sound of Sweden Choir will kick things off, followed by fiddlers from the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis and the Swedish Folkdancers of New York, who will provide traditional music and folk dancing. Ross Sutter, folk musician and Swedish heritage historian, will serve as master of ceremonies. Food stands will sell traditional Swedish food.

The Swedish Midsummer Festival is presented by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy and co-hosted by the Consulate General of Sweden in New York.

Free Woody Allen filmfest:
The Museum of Jewish Heritage at 36 Battery Place is brightening the summer with a free Woody Allen film festival on Wednesdays from June 22 to July 27 at 6:30 p.m. The schedule includes “Purple Rose of Cairo” (June 22); “Annie Hall” (June 29); “Manhattan” (July 6); “Zelig” (July 13); “Radio Days” (July 20); and “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask” (July 27). Tickets will be available at the box office on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 3 p.m. on the day of each screening. Tickets can be reserved in advance with a guaranteed seat for a minimum donation of $5 per ticket. Call (646) 437-4202 or go to www.mjhnyc.org/woodyallen to make a reservation.

Two B.P.C. marathons:
Battery Park City hosted two marathons over the weekend of June 18 and 19 — a swimming event and a music festival. On Saturday, swimmers from 10 countries dove into the water at South Cove and swam around the island of Manhattan. The winning time of 7:29:46 for the 28.5-mile course was posted by Erica Rose, 28, a former open water world champion and 10-time U.S. champion. Rose, who comes from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, now lives in Ann Arbor, Mich., where she works in fundraising and development for the University of Michigan. Officially retired from swimming, she said that she trained for nine months, three to four hours a day, to prepare for this race. “I got talked into doing this swim,” she said afterward. “I was a little nervous about how it would go.” Rose came in more than four minutes ahead of the second place finisher, John van Wisse of Australia, who had won the previous three Manhattan Island Marathon Swims.

Both Rose and van Wisse are now qualified to return to Battery Park City on Sept. 28 to swim on a fast tide and attempt to break the around-the-Island record currently held by Shelley Taylor Smith. In the meantime, landlubbers who want to see some thrilling swimming can look forward to a Manhattan Island Marathon Swim on July 16 for four- and six-person relay teams. Drury Gallagher, 72, who started the Manhattan Marathon swims and who won the first race in 1982, will be one of the swimmers. Arthur Figur, 80, of New Rochelle, N.Y. will also be swimming that day. The race starts and ends in South Cove.

Banging on cans: On Sunday, the Bang on a Can marathon returned to the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center with 13 hours of contemporary music. “This is a place for weird music that doesn’t belong anywhere else in the world,” said David Lang, one of the founders of Bang on a Can. “You’ll hear a lot of things that don’t belong together. That’s the idea.”

The cornucopia included works that were at times terrifying, moving, boisterous and exquisite. Bang on a Can founder Michael Gordon wrote a poignant piece called “Exalted” that honored his recently deceased father. Julia Wolfe, also a founder of Bang on a Can, was represented by a remarkable, tension-filled work called “Cruel Sister” that was scored for strings and played by Ensemble Signal. Asphalt, one of Bang on a Can’s house bands, paraded in and out of the Winter Garden with rollicking renditions of music by Frank Zappa and Björk, among others. The Talea Ensemble with soprano Tony Arnold played the hour-long “An Index of Metals” by Fausto Romitelli, finished a few days before he died at the age of 41 and a searing depiction of pain, death and the sadness of leaving this world. Toward the end of the marathon, the Sun Ra Arkestra appeared on the stage in dazzling, sequined costumes. Led by Marshall Allen, 87, they woke everybody up with their spirited playing and a performance that included a band member doing cartwheels in front of the stage. For information about where to catch Bang on a Can next, go to www.bangonacan.org.

To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, email TereseLoeb@mac.com.

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5 Responses to Covering Battery Park City

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  2. Good! Hope Dog killer Tom Otterness stays dead in the water

  3. Glad to hear that Tom Dog Killer Otterness' work will not be featured at this site.u00a0 Whether the money came from an outside source or not he would still be profiting from it and until he pays for his past crimes he does not deserve to profit at all.nnnnnu00a0

  4. Pingback: Covering Battery Park City – Flowers for every season.

  5. I love how these knuckleheads dredge up an incident from Otterness' past 30 years ago. As Otterness himself said:"It was an indefensible act that I am deeply sorry for. Many of us have experienced profound emotional turmoil and despair. Few have made the mistake I made. I hope people can find it in their hearts to forgive me" — Tom OtternessWell Tom, some knuckleheads will never forgive, cuz they do not have the capacity to forgive, especially when it comes to dogs, whom these knuckleheads care about more than humans. I think every dog that is kept in a tiny apartment in Manhattan is being tortured by its owner. Dogs do not belong in Manhattan at all, and I hope the day soon arrives when they are banned from this island. It is inhumane and reprehensible. Tom Otterness may have killed a dog thirty years ago, but every dog owner in manhattan is torturing their animal by caging them in tiny apartments all day.

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