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Artists Design Markers for The Bronx's Culture Trail

By Eddie Small | November 24, 2014 7:54am | Updated on November 24, 2014 8:00am
 People have until Wednesday, Jan. 7 to choose between eight different markers for the South Bronx Culture Trail.
South Bronx Culture Trail Markers
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SOUTH BRONX — Clasped hands, metal sculptures or historic photos could soon designate cultural hot spots throughout the South Bronx.

These markers would point out selected sites in the borough that are part of the South Bronx Culture Trail, a project started in 2011 by local arts groups Casita Maria and Dancing in the Streets that's meant to honor the rich cultural heritage of The Bronx.

There are 12 sites in the borough that are expected to be part of the trail, including Boulevard Theater, music store Casa Amadeo and the sculpture Puerto Rican Sun.

Artists and studios have now proposed eight different designs for the markers that would distinguish where these sites are. Casita Maria Executive Director Sarah Calderon said she is pleased with the options.

"They’re really thoughtful," she said. "I think a lot of them would fit in really well with the community and have sort of a sustainable impact on the trail."

The winning design will be determined by a combination of votes from the community and votes from the trail's advisory council, with the voting period lasting until Jan. 7.

People can take part in the selection process by coming to the Casita Maria Gallery at 928 Simpson St., where the designs are on display, and picking their top three choices. They will also soon be able to vote online at Casita Maria’s website as well.

Artists Chat Travieso and Yeju Choi have created a marker option called “Play Bronx,” a sculpture whose form is reminiscent of a combined phonograph and street sign.

The marker would also include work from local graffiti artists, a brief written description of the spot and a speaker that plays audio specifically geared toward the site's history.

"Even if you didn’t actually read what it says, you can still kind of experience it and feel it," Choi said.

Artist Keith Godard has come up with an untitled proposal that consists of metal sculptures based on the route's sites, such as hip hop dancers for the former music venue Hunts Point Palace, while artist John Ahearn’s idea for a trail marker is called “Clasped Hands,” a bronze plaque with two pairs of children’s hands embracing each other to deliver a message of community and family.

"I would say The Bronx is the heart of all that. It’s the heart and soul of family life in New York City right now," Ahearn said.

"Shards of Bronx History," an option from artist Linda Cunningham, would consist of photographs representing the sites along the trail before redevelopment, and architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle's submission, "You Are Here/Estás Aquí," would be three separate panels meant to represent the history of the site, the South Bronx community and the individual visitor's identity.

Artists Vito Acconci and Cedric Benetti would like to hang cut portions of dresses at each trail site, while artist Duke Riley has suggested a granite stone with an historical drawing of the site sand-blasted into it alongside text describing the spot.

The architecture firm Cooper, Robertson & Partners has submitted a design as well: the "squiggly," a wavy blue banner — meant to represent the blue banner on the Bronx flag — sitting on top of a blue disc.

The winning design will likely be installed along the trail in the fall of 2015, according to Calderon.

"You should see them. I’m actually really pleasantly surprised by what we got," she said. "I didn’t know what we would get, but they’re really exciting."