Design contest kicked off for Kissena Pk. memorial

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City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) and members of the Artist Selection Committee announced at a news conference in Flushing that interested artists should submit slides of their artwork to the Manhattan arts consultant, Suzanne Randolph, by April 8.

"We're looking for the highest-quality, best design possible," Liu said. "Any artists out there that may not be in the mainstream, we invite them to submit their work."

Plans for the memorial were announced last July, with an estimated budget of $630,000 to be raised through city and state funding and private donations. Shi Young Bae, the chairman of the United Korean-Americans for America, pledged his organization's help in fund-raising.

"We always thank the American Korean vets," he said. "At this time, we try to get the fund-raising to help get the (memorial)."

Randolph, who also consulted on the Vietnam War memorial in Manhattan, said that "figurative" art such as statues is often popular for memorials. Liu said the committee did not have a preference for a particular type of art.

The 23-member selection committee includes state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) and representatives from veterans' associations, the city Department of Parks and Recreation and civic organizations.

"This is not something that's going to be foisted upon an unaware community," said Jeff Gottlieb, special assistant to state Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing). "We have the public represented on the committee."

The committee was scheduled to meet April 15 to evaluate the submissions, and selected artists will be invited to prepare detailed proposals due in mid-June. No entries had been submitted as of Monday afternoon, although Liu said that typically submissions arrive "at the last minute."

Veterans on the committee spoke about the significance of the Korean War, often called the "Forgotten War."

"This is a project to memorialize not just the veterans but also the 8,000 men that are still missing in action" in Korea, said Andrew Musumeci, president of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Association. "This will not only honor all Korean War vets but also the ones that were lost."

David Copell, who served in the war as a dentist in the medical detail and who lives in Flushing, noted that the memorial will also pay tribute to Koreans who died in the war. "This is also for the Koreans who protected their country."

Bob Tucker of the Kissena Park Civic Association pointed to the memorial's integration of local Korean residents and the war veterans.

"It's unique in that it's incorporating both the Korean community" in Flushing as well as the Americans who fought there, he said.

Though the memorial plans have been in development for four years, Liu hopes to select a design and begin construction soon, with a possible unveiling of the memorial next summer, because of the aging of the veteran population.

"The urgency of this project is that we are losing vets of this war every year" due to natural causes, Liu said. "We want this finished before we lose any more vets."

Interested artists can submit slides of their work to Suzanne Randolph Fine Arts, 234 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10001.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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