By John Burton
RED BANK – Mayor Pasquale Menna hopes that the recent donation of artwork will be the start of a public art movement in the borough.
The borough will be the recipient of three large metal statues that are expected to be the initial offering for a future public art space.
Albert and Sandy Gordon, a retired Middletown dentist and his wife, have given the borough the sculptures they commissioned 40 years ago for their office complex on Route 35 and Apple Farm Road.
“It was our interest to have them shared in a public space,” Sandy Gordon said.
The donation fits into what Menna envisions for Red Bank. He plans to use the initial contribution to help establish an area to display works of art that will be readily accessible to the public.
“This is the impetus that we were looking for,” he said.
Under consideration for the installation is Riverside Gardens Park on West Front Street, maybe somewhere in the downtown commercial district or – Menna’s preference – on the property recently cleared by Monmouth County at the intersection of Rector Place and West Front Street.
The location, an overlook of the Hubbard Bridge the county is building over the Swimming River, will serve as a gateway to Red Bank. Menna said it might be just the spot for a garden and public art displays. It also is on the borough’s west side, the site of a number of projects that officials say will revitalize the area, making that side of town “tres hot,” Menna said.
The mayor also hopes the donation will encourage like-minded offers, adding to what he hopes will be a growing collection.
“This sends a message, this is a shot across the bow for individuals in the community who have not thought about it and who may wish to come forward and be part of what I think will be a really great creative expression that will continue to see Red Bank on the map,” Menna said.
The Eisner Foundation gave the borough funds a few years ago, for public art projects, according to the mayor. If the borough can obtain donated works, that would free up more money for the grounds, as opposed to purchasing pieces, he said.
Sandy Gordon complimented Menna’s proposal.
“I think the concept is so much Red Bank, for a community that is so interested in the arts,” she said.
The donated sculptures – one stands 9-feet-tall – “are not the kind of things you can put in your living room,” she said.
In 1974, the Gordons commissioned artist Hy Suchman from Toms River to create the stainless steel sculptures. Entitled “Generations: Mother Earth and Her Children,” the three works stand at 9-, 5- and 4-feet tall.
During the 1950s, Suchman established a gallery in Red Bank and by the mid-1960s the Whitney Museum included some of Suchman’s work in its shows, according to Gordon.
Menna expects the take possession of the works in the near future and will hold a public ceremony at that point. The works, however, will have to be held in storage until officials determine an appropriate location, he said.