The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Peter and Willie

I used to poke fun at our side of the park's so-called Imagination Playground. I'd peak in and think "man, you're darn right. With a playground that boring you better bring all the imagination you got."

How wrong I was. With most of NYC's playgrounds looking suspiciously similar, the I.P. is refreshing, and with this summer's heat, it's full shade environment made it the place to be for those of us with excitable toddlers.

So I just gotta share this tidbit about the sculpture of the kid and his dog, and the little throne that every self-respecting child under the age of 3 wants to perch upon.

This piece, featuring bronze figures of a boy reading a book with his dog on a contoured basalt boulder, sits in Prospect Park’s Imagination Playground near the Lincoln Road Entrance. The play sculpture, funded by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and inspired by Keats’ book Peter’s Chair, was created by African American artist and Brooklyn resident Otto Neals.

Born on December 11, 1930 in Lake City, South Carolina, Neals developed an early interest in art with the guidance of an older cousin. Though he attended both the Brooklyn Museum Art School and Bob Blackburn’s Printmaking Workshop in Manhattan, Neals was largely self-taught and honed his skills while dedicating 36 years to the United States Postal Service. His “Spirit of ‘76” wood carving, a piece crafted from a discarded mahogany and oak postal table, is permanently displayed at the main entrance of the Brooklyn General Post Office.

Neals has also exhibited in nationwide galleries, museums, libraries, and universities, and he is a co-director and founding member of the Association of Caribbean American Artists-ACAA Art Gallery. This non-profit, Brooklyn-based organization promotes the work of African, Caribbean, and African American artists and supports Pan-American and African partnerships.

Here's more on the remarkably versatile Otto Neals. Thanks man. Nice piece. Clearly you know something about children that escaped me entirely.


Anonymous said...

yeah, the imagination park is awesome. the dragon sculpture/water area is awesome. lots of shade. various ages. always a good time. highly recommended.

Ceelledee said...

How nice of you to feature Otto and his fantastic bronze sculpture of "Peter and Willie" in the Imagination Playground! Otto is truly the granddaddy of accomplished and respected artists in greater PLG+. His wonderful community art gallery, ACAA Art Gallery, used to be situated on the Lincoln Road commercial corridor. (Boy, is that place missed!) In fact, IIRC, the former location of the ACAA gallery is where Otto's wonderful panel of art now sits on the fence of the now-abandoned construction site on Lincoln Road. (It's the panel that depicts a woman sitting in a Lotus position). And the folk art style of work that is situated right next to Otto's on that fence, is that of Karl McIntosh. Another longtime resident and well-respected art worker of our hood. Cheers to our local artists!

Carmen said...

Two thumbs up for Imagination Playground! With two kids in tow, its a perfect way to get out of the house while keeping my sanity.