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Bronze Lions May Soon Guard Battery Park City Library

By Julie Shapiro | March 8, 2011 7:47pm | Updated on March 9, 2011 6:10am

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

BATTERY PARK CITY — A pair of bronze lions towering 5 feet tall may soon guard the entrance to the Battery Park City Library.

Sculptor Tom Otterness has agreed to craft the lions, after a local resident anonymously volunteered to cover the cost.

"We're all really excited," Otterness told DNAinfo Tuesday. "The idea is to do a variation on the New York Public Library lions, which are such a well-known emblem."

Unlike Patience and Fortitude, the reclining marble lions in front of the midtown library, these lions would sit up on their haunches, Otterness said. One will be male and the other female, and they will be surrounded by a bunch of cubs just 6 inches tall. One will be munching on a little bronze book.

Otterness sees the lions as a continuation of "The Real World," his 1992 installation of playful bronze figurines in Rockefeller Park a few blocks away. Many of those figures are shown carrying pennies, so Otterness plans to show one of the lion cubs with a bag of pennies as well.

"It'll be as if they wandered off the site and up to the library," Otterness said. "It's exciting to get a chance to add another element after all these years."

The lions would likely sit just north of the library's entrance on North End Avenue and could arrive as soon as the spring of 2012, Otterness said.

The idea for the lions came from Tom Goodkind, a Battery Park City resident who first suggested the project as a joke several years ago.

But other residents liked the idea and Goodkind began pursuing it seriously. He called Otterness, who was intrigued, but the project was on hold until recently because of a lack of funding.

"The kids are going to love it," Goodkind said. "It really enhances the neighborhood."

The New York Public Library did not immediately comment on the lions.

Otterness, a Kansas native who studied at the Art Students League in the 1970s, has created many popular public art installations in the city, including "Life Underground" at the 14th Street and Eighth Avenue subway station. He has shown his work all over the world.

Otterness faced harsh criticism more than 30 years ago for shooting his dog as part of an art film. He has since apologized.

The lions require the approval of the city and Community Board 1. CB1's Battery Park City Committee was scheduled to hear a presentation about the project at a meeting April 5, Goodkind said.

The Battery Park City Library opened one year ago this month and is celebrating its anniversary next week.