Donald Lipski’s Spot installed in front of the new Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
From the artist, Donald Lipski’s email of May 29, 2018
As a neighbor, I’m proud to have just installed a sculpture in front of NYU’s Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital [in the new Kimmel Pavilion, but with its own driveway and lobby], on 34th Street between 1st Avenue and the FDR Drive.
The sculpture, Spot, is a 2-1/2 story tall Dalmatian dog, balancing an actual taxi on her nose. Spot will be out there for everyone to see, but it was made primarily for children coming to the hospital. Hospitalization for children is a stressful time, and I wanted to make something that would delight them, something so astounding that it would distract even those arriving for the most serious procedures, and so lovable that young patients coming back again and again with chronic conditions would see it as an old friend. Art has healing power. That’s a fact! I like to think that the parents, the doctors and nurses and staff, my neighbors, will all love this sweet young dog doing the impossible.
My family, long-time New Yorkers, moved to Murray Hill in 2013, and we love it here. And this is my hospital. We can see it from our terrace. All my doctors have been at NYU since I moved to NY in the 70s. I’ve had surgeries there, been in studies there, gone to the emergency room there, etc. etc. So this is a special piece for me in so many ways. It’s a privilege to be able to do this.
I had the original idea for Spot, and, miraculously, Nick Geurts, my engineer, said it was doable. His engineering plans ran to 20 pages. It’s engineered to handle a hurricane and flooding worse than Sandy. We also needed approval from Amtrak, since they have a tunnel that runs beneath the piece!
I hired the great Philadelphia realist sculptor, Christopher Collins to sculpt the dog as a scale model. Toyota gave me the Prius I used for the taxi. The FAST Corporation in Wisconsin did a beautiful job making the full scale dog.
On our first day installing the piece, there were storms and winds that shut down the site. On the second day, we had just gotten the taxi up when it started to rain. Everyone was telling me to look up—the windshield wipers were on! Ryan Emendorf, our electrical genius, had set them up with a rain sensor as a surprise for me.
My neighbors can see another sculpture of mine a few blocks away. Sirshasana, a chandelier in the form of an upside-down olive tree, hangs over your head when you enter the Grand Central Market at Grand Central Terminal, on Lexington Avenue at 43rd Street I also have a sculpture at The La Guardia High School for the Arts, behind Lincoln Center.
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Donald Lipski's work is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., The Art Institute of Chicago, The Menil Collection and dozens of other museums. In recent years, Lipski has focused his efforts on creating large-scale works for public spaces.