Public Art Initiative

The Rye Arts Center Public Art Initiative is an ongoing project to add art to the landscape of Rye and spark thought and conversation throughout the community. To learn more about each active project and hear audio tours from the artists, download the free app Otocast.

Community input and interest is central to public art. Please take a moment to share your thoughts in a quick survey. Click for survey.


Current and Past Public Art Initiative Installations:


by Damien Vera
In Rye Town Park

CopeA walk in the park just got a little more interesting. Damien Vera’s Cope has found a temporary home in Rye Town Park. The 14-foot steel sculpture, on loan from The Art Students League of New York, was originally exhibited in New York City’s Riverside Park in 2012. It will be on display in Rye Town Park through the summer of 2017 as part of The Rye Arts Center’s Public Art Initiative.

“Cope is a wonderful addition to Rye Town Park,” says President of the Rye Town Park Commission, Gary Zuckerman. “It adds another dimension to the concept of enhancing the passive uses of the Park. Placing artistic endeavors within its natural beauty further adds to Rye Town Park’s symmetry and elegance. We welcome similar ideas from all of the Park’s stakeholders.”

The sculpture is comprised of five curved structures of varying heights. The outward-facing sides of each are made of smooth stainless steel. The inward-facing sides consist of a more harsh and industrial-looking, rusted steel.


Encased within each tower is a cast stone sculpture of a human figure. These hidden statues are only visible through a small slit in each tower. They will go completely unnoticed by most people as they pass by. “I want it to be for curiosity,” explains Vera whose goal for the piece was to create an environment with which the viewer can interact. It serves as a reward for the more inquisitive viewers who take the time to engage with the piece.

Cope tells two stories. From the outside, it is abstract, strong, and shining; something to add a creative flare to the landscape. Cast against the seaside part, some may see the structures as sails or fins, others may see the sculpture as a giant claw breaking through the earth. But, once you climb into the space between the five towers, the work transforms. Only then, do you see the raw and rusted steel and the small openings through which you can view the isolated human figures.

This sculpture is the newest installment of The Rye Arts Center’s Public Art Initiative. Local artist, Bob Clyatt, who has been instrumental to this project says, “Damien’s work is a great example of the caliber of sculpture that we can hope to bring here in the years ahead through The Rye Arts Center Public Art Initiative — it enriches our community and creates an opportunity for artists to generate excitement about their work.”



by Shared_Studios

“Portals are gold spaces equipped with immersive audiovisual technology. When you enter a Portal, you come face-to-face with someone in a distant Portal live and full-body, as if in the same room.” –

Developed in 2014 by Shared_Studios, there are more than 20 Portals located around the world. They provide participants with an opportunity to meet individuals from entirely different backgrounds and cultures. The immersive technology and enclosed setting transcends popular video technologies. When President Obama experienced the Portal at the 2016 Entrepreneurship Summit he said, “It seems like you’re standing right in front of me.”

Current Portal locations include Afghanistan, Jordan, Gaza City, Germany, Honduras, Iraq, Iran, Mexico, Myanmar, Rwanda, and several in the United States.

The art installation is so effective at connecting people from across the world that is has been used by the United Nations to communicate with refugees in war-torn locations. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said, “You feel you are right there.”

The Portal is more than a large-scale video conferencing tool, and the nature of the experience is disorienting. You forget that you are stateside or in your region of the country. The fact that you will likely never again see the people you encounter provides a freeing sense of anonymity.

Amar Bakshi, a creator of the Portal explains:

“It is about creating a space, context, and moment for a certain kind of dialogue. Our hope is that Portals not only connect public spaces around the world, but revitalize public spaces at home. Even more specifically, we hope it prompts all of us to seek out those moments to converse with strangers unlike ourselves – to put down the iPhone or laptop on the bus or the train and engage the person next to us. Talking to people unlike ourselves is always important, but particularly so today.”

Participants experience a range of curated and open-ended interactions, from simple prompts like “What would make today a good day?” to highly specific engagements.

In addition to one-on-one encounters, the Portal also opens the door to cultural exchanges: teaching artists can present a class, musicians can share their music, dancers can perform, and poets can read their work.

After speaking with students in Gaza City, The Rye Arts Center’s Executive Director Meg Rodriguez shared, “Our lives are so incredibly different, but what our conversation revealed was our similarities.”

The Rye Arts Center unveiled the Portal at Maker Day, on Saturday, April 1. Portals is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Making Their Mark: An Exhibit of Works By Makers.

The Rye Arts Center worked with schools and other organizations to schedule Portal encounters for thousands of visitors to experience this worldview-changing opportunity.

Bringing the Portal to The Rye Arts Center was made possible through the generous support of Sherry & Robert Wiener, Gail Harrison Roman, and The Wallace Fox Foundation. Funding was also provided through grants from ArtsWestchester and The New York State Council on the Arts.

courtesy Elizabeth Bick/Shared_Studios

The DNA Totem

by Suprina
at The Rye Arts Center

DNA Totem One man’s trash is another woman’s sculpture. The newest work presented through The Rye Arts Center’s Public Art Initiative is The DNA Totem by Suprina. This thought provoking piece is a 9’6” high model of a DNA strand made of steel. The steel frame is embedded with hundreds of found objects, attached with epoxy, and coated with metallic/UV rated paint.dsc_0134_29401393534_o

The looming structure serves as a reminder of the footprint we leave behind. Through her sculpture, the artist asks, “Is it in our DNA to be so destructive to our home?” She explains, “The sculpture is meant to bring up for discussion why we humans, who have such a similar DNA to all the other creatures of the Earth, are destroying our habitat. All other animals only produce waste the Earth can assimilate.”

Suprina is a New York-based sculptor. She shows in galleries in Chelsea, Harlem, Brooklyn, Jersey City, Newark, Morristown, Governor’s Island, Chicago, Scottsdale, and The Monmouth Museum, NJ.

The techniques used by the artist in this sculpture are not new to many students at The Rye Arts Center which offers classes in recycled art, mixed-media assemblage, and creative building.

“I am excited about this piece because it goes well beyond aesthetics. The DNA Totem serves as a catalyst for conversation.” says Meg Rodriguez, Executive Director of The Rye Arts Center. “It is a perfect example of art helping to promote positive change in the community.”

The DNA Totem will remain on the lawn of The Rye Arts Center (51 Milton Road, Rye) through the year.DNA Totel Detail


Color Field Sculpture

by Shelley Parriott

Powder-Coated Aluminum

Shelley Parriott’s vibrant Color Field Sculpture will be located outside the front entrance of The Rye Arts Center through September 28, 2016.

Parriott is an international artist originally from Brooklyn and currently residing in Woodstock, NY. Over the years, Shelley has created a collection of outdoor and indoor art installations entitled Color Field Sculpture. The concept of her work is well represented by a quote by an unattributed author, “One can use form to describe the element in us that is free form.” These sculptures were also influenced by Color Field Painting, which was a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s. Shelley describes her work as “a painterly approach to sculpture”.

On April 7, the site-specific piece was assembled with the help of her installer, Todd Brannon. On the day of installation, Shelley made final decisions as to the arrangement of the sculptural elements based upon the environment and how the colors played off the light.

“As light passes through the transparency of the sculpture, the atmosphere shifts; shapes that at first glance appear to be solid and corporeal now elude definition. Mysterious shimmering nuances seem to appear/disappear, and take on an airy quality not usually associated with structurally sound large-scale sculpture.” – Shelley Parriott

Parriott’s sculptures are made up of a perforated heavy gauge aluminum that is rolled by powerful presses. They are monumental in size and visually impactful, yet illusory because of the transparent layers. “Rarely does the concept of metal invite words such as “delicate” and “ethereal”. Yet those are the impressions evoked by the works of Shelley Parriott.” – Kathryn Boughton of The Litchfield Country Times, CT. Parriott creates a harmonious relationship between nature and industrial product.

Publications including The New York Times and The Woodstock Times have reviewed her Color Field Sculptures. She also received numerous honors and awards such as the US Embassy Berlin Travel Grant, Memorial Foundation Fellowship Grant, and the Showcase Award from Manhattan Arts International Magazine. Shelley Parriott’s Color Field Sculptures have been exhibited and collected internationally.

Shelley intended her work to be interactive, allowing pedestrians to enter the sculpture and experience Color Field Sculpture from inside the work. To view Shelley Parriott’s work at The Rye Art Center visit 51 Milton Road in Rye, NY at your convenience.

Generously sponsored by Fiona and Ozgen Dogan

DSCF0807In Stride

by Joan Benefiel

Cast resin
32.5” sculpture
custom wood base

Signed & numbered
limited edition of 15

Joan Benefiel received her first monumental public art commission in 2004. Primarily self-taught up to that point, she was accepted to the MFA program for figurative sculpture at the New York Academy of Art that same year. Since then her vibrant and dynamic work has been commissioned for installations in various cities across the United States and her signature resin works are included in numerous private collections.

Joan was born and raised in Kansas. She lives and works in Brooklyn’s artist enclave of Bushwick. She collaborates with her husband and partner, fellow sculptor Jeremy Leichman, at their sculpture production business, Figuration Studio.

You can explore her works at

Ms. Benefiel is inspired by the spark of magic that occurs when the communicative power of the human form meets her favorite medium. She sculpts her figures first in clay, plaster, and wax before casting them in the most technically advanced luminous resin, a material that captures and holds light in a transfixing way. She often imagines that the figures look as if they could be actually modeled directly in light.

All who enter the front door of 51 Milton Road will be greeted by this striding woman in white. Be sure to visit at different times throughout the day to see how the light plays upon the sculpture in different ways.


by Bob Clyatt

Cast Bronze
80″H x 40″W x 36″D

The first sculpture presented as part of the Rye Arts Center Public Art Initiative was by Rye’s very own, Bob Clyatt. “I am a big believer in more public art, particularly sculpture, and am involved in multiple initiatives to help bring more public art to Rye. I am honored to be able to share this piece with The Rye Arts Center community as the inaugural artist in this program,” states Clyatt.

Emma is an 800-pound cast bronze sculpture that stands more than six feet tall. It was sculpted in 2014 in one of the world’s largest foundries located in Nanchang, China; a region that has been casting bronze for more than 4,000 years. “I have been creating heads as a central part of my figurative sculpture practice,” Clyatt explains. “The heads are a way for me to directly convey strong, conscious presence in a piece of work, reviving an art tradition that was more common a century ago and before.”

Clyatt juxtaposes a carefully modeled face with abstractly modeled hair. “It is fun working both ways and letting them find a way to coexist in the finished piece.”

Installation of the piece was completed on Wednesday, August 13, 2015. It remained on the lawn of 51 Milton Road in Rye, NY through the fall.