DOT is Out of Touch with Chinatown ‘Gateway’ Art Installation [OP-ED]
From Dogman to the new Gateway, the city and its chosen artists don’t seem to get Chinatown.
The DOT unveiled the “Gateways to Chinatown” design last week to a stunned audience at the transportation subcommittee meeting of Community Board 3. The proposed marker, to be installed in the triangle at the confluence of Canal, Baxter, and Walker Streets, is designed by artist Lindy Lee, and more abstract than anyone could have imagined. Not to mention, it’s totally out of touch with the two neighborhoods (and residents) it was meant to honor. Personally it reminds me of stacked tin cans after used for plinking. Anyone looking at the artist’s rendering would be challenged to find any connection whatsoever to Chinatown or Little Italy.
Chinatown and Little Italy are two immigrant communities that have enjoyed a long history of coexistence and friendship, and the piece should reflect that. Meanwhile, I still cannot fathom why the Department of Transportation chose this particular proposal from the 80-plus art submissions for the presentation.
Backlash is already snowballing among Chinatown locals, who are now calling this another example of gentrification, and how the area losing its character. At the community presentation, fellow board members Shirley Ng and Vic Huey of our newly formed nonprofit COMA (Chinatown Organization for Media Awareness) lambasted the unveiled rendering.
Even though Lindy Lee has not yet been selected for the final design, I hope others will attend tonight’s Community Board 1 hearing (1 Centre Street) to offer their input before it causes a fiasco like “Dogman” did last year. It is always better to be proactive than reactive.