Washington Square Park Piano Player (2016)
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village at the foot of Fifth Avenue and surrounded by NYU buildings lies Washington Square Park. At any time of the year, the park is bustling with people and full of activity. In the park you can find a diverse group of individuals from all corners of the city converging in one space, including artists, chess players, NYU students, tourists, business professionals, couples, families and street performers.
On the chilly spring day depicted in the painting, there is a piano player (Colin Huggins) passionately performing a classical piece on a grand piano in front of the arch; a decent sized crowd has gathered to watch. In the foreground, wearing a gray coat and donning a black hat, is my wife enjoying the scene. To the right of the painting, an elderly man reads out words written in chalk to his blind friend. Between the arches of Washington Square Arch, the Empire State Building is visible. The red bricked townhome to the far right of the arch served as Robert Neville’s home in the 2007 I am Legend film starring Will Smith.
There is some truly fascinating history behind the park; from marshland, the area became farmland given to freed slaves by the Dutch, who governed the city when it was still christened New Amsterdam. From here, eventually the land was purchased by the new city government and converted to burial grounds and then later on military parade grounds. Eventually the grounds were transformed into a landscaped park to commemorate the country’s first president and became one of the most desirable areas in the city to live. In 1889, before the current arch was constructed, a temporary arch constructed of wood and plaster stood in its place to celebrate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration as President of the United States. The temporary arch proved popular enough for a permanent structure to be constructed, designed by the same architect, and inspired by the Arc de Triomphe.
- Oil on Canvas
- 36″ x 48″