A report by Jason Cohen for The Bronx Times.
The NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) announced on Oct. 28 that a project from the Bronx has been selected by the Public Design Commission (PDC) to receive its annual award for Excellence in Design.
The Bronx recipient was “Para Roberto” by Melissa Calderon, which was installed in October 2019 at Roberto Clemente Plaza.
“Para Roberto” is a Percent for Art project that pays tribute to the late Puerto Rican professional baseball player Roberto Clemente, who played 18 seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He tragically died in a plane crash in 1972 while en route to providing aid for earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
Calderón, a Bronx native, said the installation honored Clemente’s “remarkable life, his humanitarian legacy, perseverance and dedication to working with kids to help realize their own dreams.”
Awards during the virtual ceremony will be dedicated to staff, designers and artists that have helped to deliver sustainable infrastructure and public spaces throughout the city.
“We are tremendously appreciative of the Public Design Commission and their recognition of the design that goes into the sustainable infrastructure and buildings DDC creates throughout the City,” said DDC Commissioner Lorraine Grillo.
The project is created from cast bronze and depicts an empty abuelo (grandfather) chair. According to the artist, the one dozen 12-foot sugarcane stalks surrounding the chair signify the hard work Clemente’s family did in the sugarcane fields and also the player’s 12 Golden Glove Awards.
“Para Roberto’s” concrete base features oyster and seashells, which Calderón said represents both a 70’s sidewalk and the beaches in Clemente’s home in Puerto Rico.
A behind-the-scenes video shows the making of the sculpture at the Polich Tallix Foundry.
See more of the artist’s work at www.melissacalderon.com.