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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 

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.”

“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.” 

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.”

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