Sculpture of 'Queen of Meat Market' to Be Cast on High Line

By Andrea Swalec on July 10, 2013 8:11am 

MANHATTAN — Restaurant Florent is no more, but the owner of the beloved Meatpacking District eatery will soon be honored nearby.

A head-to-toe mold of restaurateur, community activist and sometimes-drag queen Florent Morellet will be created on the High Line in late July, park managers announced Tuesday.

Morellet, who was the subject of the 2010 documentary "Florent: Queen of the Meat Market," won more than 1,500 votes from the public to be rendered in a highly realistic sculpture by artist John Ahearn, beating out writer and satirist Dorothy Parker, Postmasters Gallery owner Magda Sawon and two other finalists.

Morellet — an artist and cartographer who serves on Community Board 2 — said in a brief interview Tuesday that he was thrilled to be selected.

"It's an honor. I'm very, very happy about it," he said.

The subject and sculptor are a natural match, High Line Art curator Cecilia Alemani said.

“Both Florent Morellet and John Ahearn share a strong faith in the power of art, culture and creativity to bring people together and transform our cities with public spaces enjoyed by people from diverse communities,” Alemani said in a statement.

Starting in 1985, Morellet ran Restaurant Florent, a 24-hour French diner where celebrities including Keith Haring, Amy Winehouse and Calvin Klein were regularly spotted. The 69 Gansevoort St. restaurant served as a meeting place of LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS activists, and it has been credited with helping transform its then-gritty neighborhood into a destination.

Restaurant Florent closed in spring 2008 after losing its lease.

The sculpture of Morellet will be part of "Busted," a group exhibition of nine memorials and busts on view on the elevated freight rail line-turned-park. It will be displayed from September 2013 through April 2014. The date the sculpture will be made has not yet been set.

The full-body casting process takes a minimum of two hours, during which the subject breathes through straws stuck up his or her nose, Ahearn told the website Blouin ArtInfo. 

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