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Tappen Park Picked as 'Emerging Artist Award' Sculpture Site

By Nicholas Rizzi | October 19, 2012 9:59am

STATEN ISLAND — Tappen Park has hit the public art jackpot.

The Stapleton green space has been tapped as this year's beneficiary of the Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award.

The city's Department of Parks and Recreation started accepting submissions last week from artists citywide who are vying for the right to create and install a public art sculpture in Tappen Park.

The award, named for the city's former public art coordinator, Clare Weiss, who died in 2010 of breast cancer, gives an emerging artist $10,000 to design and build an original open-air sculpture — then remove it about a year later.

"We are very excited to go to Staten Island," said Jennifer Lantzas, public art coordinator for the city's parks department. "Tappen has been one of my favorite parks over here. It has a lot of history that I think artists can expand on."

The park, originally known as Stapleton Park, was renamed in 1934 in honor of James J. Tappen, who served in the U.S. Army during World War I. Tappen was killed in 1918 in France, in the Battle of Argonne.

The park underwent a $1.5 million renovation in 2008.

The Clare Weiss award focuses on artists who are in an early stage of their career, and gives them the chance to learn the skills to become a professional public artist, Lantzas said.

"It's a really great learning opportunity," she said. "[It] gives them the basis for what they're going to need to know to become a professional public artist."

The city typically chooses a park that's been underserved with public art.

"I think they're really important, especially in these neighborhoods that have been typically underserved," Lantzas said. "It makes you see your surroundings in a completely different way."

Parks contacts artists who live or work in the chosen park's borough, but that's not a major factor in the selection of the sculptor, who can hail from anywhere in New York City.

The winning artist gets $10,000 in privately donated money to pay for insurance and make, install and dismantle the sculpture.

The contest, which began in 2010, has been responsible for the creation of temporary park sculptures in The Bronx and Brooklyn. The prize amount jumped $3,000 this year.

"There's a lot of costs when it comes to public art," Lantzas said. "It gives artists a little bit more freedom."

The deadline for submissions is Dec. 15, and a winner will be announced in February. The sculpture is set to be installed in Tappen Park by June 14, officials said.