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Three 'Sensual' Spirit Totems by Herb Alpert Planned for Lincoln Square

By Emily Frost | November 19, 2013 1:52pm
 The musician is also a sculptor and will showcase three of his modern totems. 
Herb Alpert to Exhibit Sculptures in Dante Park
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Three modern totem poles will loom over Lincoln Square's Dante Park this winter, offering a window into another side of award-winning musician Herb Alpert.

Three of Alpert's 16-foot tall bronze "Spirit Totems" — inspired by the work of indigenous tribes from the Pacific Northwest — will be installed in Dante Park this January, in view of Lincoln Center Plaza at West 64th Street, the Parks Department said.

The Grammy Award-winning songwriter and trumpeter is also a longtime sculptor who takes the same improvisational approach to his modern art pieces as he does to music, said Gary Zarr of Phil & Co., the company representing Alpert's art, to Community Board 7 members Monday. 

"Herb Alpert has been making art for 45 years," Zarr added, noting that to create the totems, Alpert, 78, begins by experimenting with clay on a small scale and then has his favorites made into larger bronze cast pieces. 

"They’re very sensual. They look like animals. They could be people," Zarr explained of the three sculptures, "Freedom," "Grace" and "Gratitude," which will stand from Jan. 25 through April 15. 

Jonathan Kuhn, a Parks Department representative who said this would be the 19th sculpture installation by the agency in the square, said the mounting of Alpert's work would be done in a safe way that would not harm the newly renovated space. 

"[The sculptures] do look a little bit like an attractive nuisance for people to climb up," said Klari Neuwalt, chairwoman of CB7's Parks and Environment Committee.

But Kuhn disagreed, simply stating: "I don’t think they will be a climbing hazard."

The committee passed a resolution unanimously expressing its "welcome" to Alpert's exhibition. 

Zarr said that Alpert spent time looking all over New York City for the ideal place to put the sculptures. 

"He fell in love with Dante Park because it was so open and it’s an open thoroughfare where [the sculptures] would be visible," he said. Alpert also appreciated the connection to music from its proximity of Lincoln Center, Zarr added. 

"He has a great love of the city," he said of Albert, who lives in Malibu.

An opening ceremony featuring Alpert and a companion gallery show are also possibilities, Zarr said.