By Maria Rocha-Buschel
A new sculpture along the Oval will commemorate the veteran beginnings of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village community later this year, as management recently announced.
The sculpture by New Jersey-based artist Jose Chora, an aluminum tree on top of a reflecting pool, is expected to debut along the Oval by this coming Veterans Day in November.
ST/PCV general manager Rick Hayduk said that a public acknowledgment of the veteran community has been in the works since Blackstone took over in 2015.
“Knowing the property and being respectful of the history, we thought that somewhere on the property we could acknowledge that history and wanted to put some outdoor sculptural piece to commemorate that,” Hayduk said.
Management accepted a number of submissions through the contact list of a gallery owner someone on the team knew and gave fairly loose restrictions to the artists who offered their work.
“We left all the creativity to the artists,” Hayduk said. “We asked what would be the best way to acknowledge veterans in general, not just World War II veterans. When we got Jose’s piece, it’s like when something is better than you ever dreamed. It was immediately the clear choice.”
Hayduk added that management will be giving residents the opportunity to purchase leaves on the tree, with the funding from donations going to a veterans’ organization that has not yet been determined.
The sculpture itself will be a tree with five branches that represent the five branches of the military. Chora said that the leaves on the branches won’t all be in fixed positions so that the sculpture has some movement. The tree will also be on a pedestal that will sit in a reflecting pond.
“We wanted the pond to represent reflecting on the past history that the community has,” Chora said. He also noted that the branches of the sculpture have multiple meanings to him. In addition to representing the different branches of the military, they also represent change and growth.
“They’re rising and making people look up and think of the whole history of the community that’s been growing for all these years,” he said.
The tree, which is expected to be about 17 to 20 feet tall, will be in the landscaped area between the Oval and Playground 9, with 5 Stuy Cafe off to the side.
“It will be visible to anyone entering from First Avenue,” Hayduk said. “It will be right there, front and center.”
Chora has been an artist for the last 20 years and first started by painting and working with other two-dimensional media. He later worked with his father as a pipefitter for a few years, learning how to work with metal and started creating sculptures.
“I love grabbing the flat shapes and making them something organic,” Chora said. “The pieces become very monolithic and making that from flat pieces of metal, there’s a passion to see that happen.”
Chora was born in Lisbon and grew up in France, living in Canada before he moved to the United States. He and his wife, who is also an artist, are based in southern New Jersey.