June 7, 2023
BW - Mount Vernon

In Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop, Artist Eto Otitigbe Unveils Sculpture Honoring Rapper Heavy D and Mount Vernon’s Musical Legacy at 42 Broad

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The public art installation, Peaceful Journey, is located within the plaza of one of the nation’s most energy-efficient residential buildings

Mount Vernon, N.Y. (April 27, 2023) – Today, Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, ArtsWestchester and the family of the influential hip-hop artist Heavy D joined the development team behind 42 Broad — a joint venture of Alexander Development Group, The Bluestone Organization and institutional investors advised by J.P. Morgan Global Alternatives — for the unveiling of Brooklyn-based artist Eto Otitigbe’s Peaceful Journey, a monumental public art installation that celebrates the rapper’s music and legacy in Mount Vernon. 

“I wanted to pay homage to the Mount Vernon community that had such an important place in hip-hop with this work of art,” says Eto Otitigbe of Peaceful Journey. The artist explains that the Heavy D song the sculpture is named after “offers a thoughtful and complex picture of the lives of Black and Brown people [living] in places like Mount Vernon, the Bronx or Los Angeles” and that the Mount Vernon native’s music was transformative for him growing up. 

Inspired by various points of interest including architecture, physics and hip-hop, Otitigbe won a commission for a site-specific installation within the plaza at 42 Broad, a striking high-rise that will be one of the nation’s most energy-efficient residential buildings when it opens this spring. Situated at the corner of Broad Street and Fleetwood Avenue, Peaceful Journey will be on view for pedestrians, as well as drivers exiting and entering the Cross County Parkway. The sculpture, which was selected through an open competitive process managed by ArtsWestchester, a leading public art proponent, offers the hope of tranquility through turbulent times and represents how harmony and balance can be achieved even during times of change. 

“Otitigbe’s abstract artwork will add a spectacular focal point to a gateway to the City of Mount Vernon,” says Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard. “Not only my friend and a son of Mount Vernon, but Heavy D was also an integral part of making Mount Vernon the Jewel of Westchester; his influence in the creation of this sculpture makes it more meaningful. Although Heavy D has begun his ‘peaceful journey,’ Mr. Otitigbe’s sculptural arch is a true testament to the pride, resilience, and transformation of ‘Money Earnin Mount Vernon.’ I am sure this warms the heart of the Myers family and all Heavy D touched as not only an artist but a resident of Mount Vernon.” 

Brooklyn-based artist Eto Otitigbe at unveiling of Peaceful Journey, a monumental public art installation at 42 Broad St, Mount Vernon [Black Westchester]

“We are grateful and honored to the City of Mount Vernon, ArtsWestchester, and the 42 Broad development team of Mark Alexander, Nicholas Alexander and the Bluestone Organization for commemorating the legacy of the groundbreaking album ‘Peaceful Journey’ by Heavy D & the Boyz during the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop music and culture,” says Floyd Myers, brother of Heavy D. “Today’s sculpture unveiling is a testament to the impact of this album and the artistry of Dwight Myers (Heavy D), Troy Dixon (Trouble T-Roy), Eddie Ferrell (Eddie F.) and Glen Parrish (G-Wiz) had on the music industry. We hope this statue will inspire future generations to tap into their creativity as a means of expression and expanding the message of love, peace, and unity as voiced in the music of Heavy D & the Boyz.” 

Heavy D’s mother Eula Elliot Myers thanked Eto and shared when Eto first approached her and talked about how Heavy D’s album Peaceful Journey inspired him and he wanted to something for Mount Vernon and he wanted to do something for Hev. Heavy D’s brother couldn’t be there so he had his wife Robin Harmon-Myers read a statement from him (see video below).

Otitigbe worked with the architect Michael DiCarlo to design Peaceful Journey. The archway offers an invitation for people to pass through its portal, which serves as a waymarker for a peaceful journey — whether for those leaving the building or the community, or for those returning home. The sculpture is made of Vermont Fantastico Marble, Stainless Steel and COR-TEN steel. The form cycles between stone and metal and appears to continue its path through the concrete. The hive-like steel structure references pointed archways from South East Asian and Islamic architecture, and were later made popular in Gothic architecture throughout Europe. 

“The hexagon is a signifier for strength and harmony,” explains Otitigbe. “As one passes under the archway and looks up the view of the sky is pixelated by a hexagonal grid. Even the surface of the metal will transform over time as the COR‐TEN steel weathers and changes color. The stone monolith also conveys a sense of balance and affirmation while its surface carries an organic fluid pattern; evidence of the stone’s transformation over time.”

Designed by global architecture firm Perkins Eastman and built to meet the highest standard of sustainable design, 42 Broad is the world’s largest market-rate multifamily high-rise to achieve Phius passive house Design Certification. The building includes a collection of 249 modern residences and access to more than 20,000 square feet of programmed amenities. 

“Public art is integral to our development philosophy,” says Mark Alexander, co-founder and principal of Alexander Development Group. “At 42 Broad, we are allocating a sizeable budget for highly visible art to create a memorable place, promote community pride, and to raise the level of aesthetics and energy in the city. Great public art should be transformational, and that is our intent with Otitigbe’s monumental sculpture. Peaceful Journey compliments the metalwork and brick masonry of the building, while inviting the public to walk through its dappled lit archway.” 

Janet T. Langsam, CEO of ArtsWestchester and public art partner to the project explains, “Public art like Eto Otitigbe’s sculpture will enhance the downtown offering a bit of the unexpected, a bit of the extraordinary into everyday life. Investment in public art is investment in a community because signature artwork like this helps create more livable, more creative communities and more enjoyable communities.” 

About Eto Otitigbe: Eto Otitigbe is a polymedia artist whose interdisciplinary practice intersects concepts related to Blackness, power, and technology. His works have been exhibited nationally and internationally for over 15 years. Otitigbe’s exhibitions include Subwaves at the Carver Museum in Austin, TX; Topophilia, as part of the Meetings Festival in Denmark; Bronx Calling: The Second AIM Biennial, organized by the Bronx Museum and Wave Hill. He has participated in residencies at The John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, Austin, TX; 701 CCA, Columbia, SC; Center for Book Arts, New York, NY; and Luminary Center for the Arts, St. Louis, MO. Otitigbe completed several recent temporary public projects that include locations such as Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, NY and Randall’s Island Park in New York City. His first permanent public project was completed in 2019. Otitigbe received public commissions for FLOW at Randall’s Island Park and the Emerging Artist Fellowship at Socrates Sculpture Park. In 2015 Otitigbe was awarded a CEC Artslink Project Award for travel to Egypt. Otitigbe completed a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship at the National Museum of African Art in

Washington D.C., where he investigated the connection between the Urhobo language of Southwestern Nigeria and objects from the museum’s collection. Otitigbe worked with Howeler and Yoon Architecture to design the memorial for laborers who were enslaved by the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The memorial is a reflective gathering space that includes symbols of libation and liberation. Otitigbe’s role on the design team focused on creating imagery for the exterior surface of the memorial that honors the enslaved laborers. Otitigbe studied Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S.) and Stanford University (M.S.) and earned an MFA in Creative Practice from the TransArt Institute. Otitigbe lives and works in Brooklyn, NY where he is an Assistant Professor in the Art Department of Brooklyn College. 

About ArtsWestchester: For over 50 years, ArtsWestchester has been the community’s connection to the arts. Founded in 1965, it is the largest private not-for-profit arts council in New York State. Its mission is to provide leadership vision and support to ensure the availability accessibility and diversity of the arts. ArtsWestchester provides programs and services that enrich the lives of everyone in Westchester County. ArtsWestchester helps fund concerts exhibitions and plays through grants; brings artists into schools and community centers; advocates for the arts, including public art; and builds audiences through diverse marketing initiatives. In 1998, ArtsWestchester purchased the nine-story neo-classical bank building at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue which has since been transformed into a multi-use resource for artists, cultural organizations and the community. A two-story gallery is located on the first floor of ArtsWestchester’s historic building on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains, NY. 

About Alexander Development Group: Alexander Development Group (“ADG”) is a development and advisory services firm that specializes in residential and mixed-use development throughout the New York metropolitan area. ADG develops extraordinarily efficient buildings and seeks to create significant value throughout each investment life cycle. With every project, we work diligently to enhance the quality of life in neighborhoods that we touch in ways that benefit all of its residents. ADG also provides advisory services to clients, primarily to support mixed-income housing models, with an uncompromising level of professionalism. www.adgny.com 

About The Bluestone Organization: The Bluestone Organization is a full-service real estate development company with experience and expertise in site selection, planning, financing, construction, sale, marketing and management. Through their creative use of building systems and components, they have become an industry leader by creating record-breaking, low-energy consuming buildings at the same cost as others construct standard structures. The organization has financed, designed, built and managed buildings throughout the greater New York area including condominiums, coops, rental and mix-use buildings, as well as affordable one-, two- and three-family homes. www.bluestoneorg.com 

About J.P. Morgan Global Alternatives and J.P. Morgan Asset Management – Real Estate Americas J.P. Morgan Asset Management – Real Estate Americas is the U.S. real estate investment platform of J.P. Morgan Global Alternatives. With US$73 billion (Gross Asset Value as of September 30, 2022) in assets under management and 180 professionals, the platform offers real estate strategies that span from core to opportunistic and across debt and equity. J.P. Morgan Global Alternatives is the alternative investment arm of J.P. Morgan Asset Management. With more than 50 years as an alternatives investment manager, US$216 billion in assets under management and more than 800 professionals (as of September 30, 2022), J.P. Morgan offers strategies across the alternative investment spectrum including real estate, private equity, private credit, hedge funds, infrastructure, transportation, timber and liquid alternatives. Operating from offices throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific, our independent alternative investment engines combine specialist knowledge and singular focus with the global reach, vast resources and powerful infrastructure of J.P. Morgan to help meet each client’s specific objectives. For more information, visit jpmorgan.com/am

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