A new bronze statue of E.L. Doctorow was installed at Huguenot Park on Friday, echoing the bronze statue of Huguenot settler Jacob Leisler that has stood at the base of Broadview Avenue since 1913. Both that statue and Doctorow’s home on Broadview figure in his best-selling novel “Ragtime”, which became a film and an award-winning Broadway musical.
The statue is the result of years of work by the Doctorow Legacy Initiative committee, a group appointed by Mayor Noam Bramson in 2016 that includes members of the New Rochelle Council on the Arts (Theresa Kump Leghorn, Angela Derecas Taylor and Billie Tucker) and the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence (Steve Silverman and Stephanie Tomei), along with City Historian Barbara Davis and Mrs. Helen Doctorow. After issuing an international RFP, and receiving proposals from as far away as Turkey and Spain, the committee ultimately selected New York sculptor Derek Chalfant for the task. The new public art was funded through generous donations from Mr. Doctorow’s literary agent, publishing house, and family friends, as well as a $125,000 New York State grant secured by Assembly Member Amy Paulin.
Sculptor Derek Chalfant worked closely with Mrs. Doctorow, who shared the actual shoes and clothing worn by her late husband with the artist: They were cast in bronze. Chalfant also created rubber molds of copies of all of Doctorow’s novels and cast those in bronze as well. The resulting statue is roughly 6 feet 3 inches in height; its 30-inch-tall limestone base weighs 6,000 pounds. The figure of E.L. Doctorow stands on an oversized version of his first book, “Welcome to Hard Times” – the symbolic “foundation” of his future works – with bronzed editions of 11 of his books stacked in front of him; he holds his final book, “Andrew’s Brain,” in his left hand.
The statue is oriented so that Doctorow looks toward his former home near the top of Broadview Avenue. The site was selected because it is at the geographical center of New Rochelle and near both the Huguenot Children’s Library and New Rochelle High School, reflecting Doctorow’s passion for literacy and the importance of reading; plaques bearing some of his inspirational quotes are attached to the statue.
The statue will be dedicated on Sunday, October 22nd during this year’s ArtsFest (taking place October 19th through 22nd). The day will start with City Historian Barbara Davis leading a free historic trolley tour of the North End of New Rochelle (there will be three 30-minute tours departing from the NRHS parking lot on North Avenue near Braemar Road starting at 10 am; limited seating is available on a first come, first served basis), followed by a dedication event at 12 noon which will feature a performance by students from New Rochelle High School performing a selection from the musical version of Ragtime. A Ragtime Jazz Brunch fundraiser will follow at 12:30 pm at Wykagyl Country Club, where members of the Doctorow family and sculptor Derek Chalfant will be entertained by renowned pianist Adam Kent playing ragtime favorites and dancers performing popular dances of the period. The brunch includes a sumptuous buffet of brunch favorites and “bottomless” Mimosas as well as a silent auction. Tickets for the fundraiser are priced at $125 and $250 and are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ragtime-jazz-brunch-tickets-700430796367 For more information visit the NRCA website at www.newrochellearts.org.
The New Rochelle Council on the Arts (NRCA), a 501 ©3 organization established in 1975, is the lead agency for this project; with NRCA acting as the fiscal agent, donors’ contributions are tax deductible. To make a tax deductible contribution with a credit card donors can visit www.newrochellearts.org or mail a check (with Doctorow Legacy written on the notes line) to NRCA, P.O. Box 72, New Rochelle, NY 10804.
About New Rochelle Council on the Arts
The New Rochelle Council on the Arts mission is to stimulate and encourage the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts and the public\’s interest and participation therein. It has been exemplified by our sponsorship of a vast number of exhibitions, theatrical productions, dance recitals, film screenings, lectures, and concert series. To create opportunities for the public to encounter and explore art and increase access to the arts in New Rochelle.