Bayonne is yet another local city that acknowledges the benefits of investing in art to uplift the community. Residents may have already gotten used to seeing their honorary neighbors’ statues placed throughout Broadway Avenue, but for those who are visiting this endearing town, you’ll find extremely realistic statues in the form of a cheerleader proudly waving her pom-poms, an elderly man diving into a book in front of the main post office, and even a black panther heading down the street. These various bronze installations throughout the town depict different people and animals doing everyday things, making them beautiful and relatable to residents. Painted utility boxes can also be found throughout Bayonne, which add to the vibrancy of the avenue and together they add to the charm of Bayonne. Read on to learn about Bayonne’s “beautification program.”
The Beautification Program
In 2018, Mayor Jimmy Davis announced that the City of Bayonne had begun installing 10 statues on Broadway as part of its shopping district’s beautification program. There are now 12 statues stationed along the city’s main road and shopping avenue that are impossible to miss. Five of them are in the Special Improvement District from 17th Street to 30th Street, while the rest are scattered throughout the avenue.
“The goal of this program is to make Broadway a more attractive, fun place for shopping and dining,” Mayor Davis said. “Promoting Broadway as an interesting destination for consumers is good for our local small businesses.” Through giving local artists a very public and permanent platform to showcase their work, Mayor Davis aims to enrich the culture that already exists within the main avenue. Over the last few years, there have been new murals, painted utility boxes, and other initiatives to spread diversity and joy throughout the city of Bayonne.
These improvements were made possible by funding from the Bayonne Enterprise Zone/Special Improvement District and sponsorships from the Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs. None of the art was paid for by municipal property taxes, as stated on BayonneNJ.org.
According to the official website, the city says it hopes to do the second phase of art installations on Broadway in the near future.
Statues are a popular form of art that permanently spread joy. These particular statues in Bayonne are extremely realistic, so much so that they often have people doing a double-take. They’re so much more than beautiful pieces of artwork, these statues represent and reflect people of the community. They create a familiar experience, things that everyone can relate to, and are a source of pride — that’s why they are loved.
Some of the bronze statues depict a young girl peacefully reading a book on a bench, a young girl joyfully releasing a bird, a coach poised as he appears to be watching the game with his playbook in hand, a young boy excited and looking upward, a woman appearing to be in mid-step happily moving forward, a cheerleader beaming with school spirit, an older gentleman enjoying a book as he sits on a bench, and a fierce panther — variety and relatability.
The Artists Behind the Statues
The statues were designed by the Randolph Rose Collection of Yonkers, New York. The company specializes in bronze statues, plaques, and fountains. Randolph Rose has been creating bronze statuary for homes, gardens, and public spaces since 1972. Customers can purchase pre-made statues of all themes, including library, sports, special needs, and animal designs. They also take custom orders. “We can design, create and cast bronze in nearly any shape, size, and pose you desire,” as stated on the website.
The process of making the statues are time and labor-intensive. “The first mold takes the longest since it has to be hand sculpted from clay first. It can take upwards of a year for the first one,” Harlon Rose told Hoboken Girl.
Bayonne chose the designs of molds the company already had. “We work from images that we find or that clients provide,” Harlon explains.
“The original girl with a bird came from a memorial that we did in Kentucky. The older man reading was for a library that wanted to show older patrons reading. The cheerleader was inspired by a project we did in Illinois for a high school. The panther was done as a mascot for a school in CA originally,” Harlon continues. “The coach was inspired by my father being our little league baseball and soccer coach. The woman mid-step is actually a portion of a larger statue we do titled “Families are Forever” and she normally holds her childs hand, but in this instance, we thought it would be cool for anyone to hold her hand.”
“We do work for all sorts of public venues including cities, parks, downtown developments, colleges, schools, and more. We recently did a huge one for Rutgers University. We did the Scarlet Knight on a horse known as the “Victory” statue on campus,” explains Rose. However, children-themed and dog statues are the most popular.
The Painted Utility Boxes
The program didn’t stop at installing stunning statues around town, the program also included vibrantly-painted utility boxes, banners, and flower boxes.
The artists had to submit a Request for Proposal application to the Bayonne Urban Enterprise Zone Management Corporation, with up to three designs to be considered.
“We invite artists to participate in this unique program designed to transform common utility boxes into works of art, which will add beauty to the City of Bayonne for years to come. We believe this art installation will add to the vitality of our shopping district,” stated on the application. “The artwork should complement the History of Bayonne & Broadway Shopping District main street environment and contribute to positive energy, boost morale, and upbeat attitudes among residents, visitors, and shoppers.”
The local artists that were chosen to transform the utility boxes were Kimberly Diaz, Cindy Gonzalez, Eilene Pallarca, Patricia Mulligan, Xiao Weldon, Gary Wynans, Billy Zbylut, Samantha Llanes, Stephanie Petersen, Jeff Ware, Maria Lupianez, Tiffany Patrice, and Gary Wyans. Jeff Ware transformed the only two fire pull-boxes still standing on the avenue into fun, eye-catching works of art.
Some of the utility boxes now depict a tranquil waterfall, a woman surrounded by sunflowers, the Statue of Liberty, a vintage train, a girl holding a giant popsicle, ballerinas, sea life, a man feeding pigeons, mountain landscapes, and various designs representing love.
About Broadway Avenue
Broadway Avenue is the center of the city and serves as the main shopping and dining area in the town. Many of the city-sponsored events take place on the avenue. Some of the events, when times are more “normal,” include fairs, and parades, including the Hometown Fair, the Bayonne Hispanic Parade, National Night Out fair, Music on Broadway, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Christmas Tree Lighting, Halloween Parade, Memorial Day Parade, and more.