Presenting visual and performance art in unexpected public spaces.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Leon Reid IV’s Tourist -in-Chief received permission from the Parks and Recreation Department



Caroline Reid


New York, NY, September 30, 2011. Public Artist Leon Reid IV has received permission from the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to dress the statue of George Washington in Union Square Park. The installation “Tourist-In-Chief” involves placement of five props on the statue: “I Love NY” cap, subway map, shopping bags and camera. The project is designed to transform the appearance of George Washington from military general to modern tourist. Installation is on view Saturday, October 1 from 8am-7pm as part of Art In Odd Places 2011 festival RITUAL.

The three objectives of “Tourist-In-Chief” are:

  1. Reflect cultural atmosphere of Union Square.
  2. Make Washington more relatable to contemporary audience.
  3. Inform public about Washington’s role in NYC history.

The statue of George Washington created by Henry Kirke Brown in 1856 is the oldest in New York City possession and the second equestrian statue created in the United Sates. The work depicts Washington on his historic march down Broadway during Evacuation Day 1783, marking an end to British colonial rule in the city. Leon Reid IV’s “Tourist-In-Chief” sets a creative precedent; it is the first instance of an artist permitted by the city to use the statue in a work of art.

Ed Woodham, founder and director of Art In Odd Places said of “Tourist-In-Chief”:

“…[W]hat this project does, and what Art In Odd Places hopes to do is to see the city and its normal surroundings in a new ligh[t]…”

The project raised over $3,100 on the fund-raising platform Kickstarter, but early public support did not guarantee complete success; “Tourist-In-Chief” underwent a turbulent administrative process. Dismissed by the Parks Department, unanimously voted in favor by the Parks Committee (Community Board 5),officially rejected by the Department then ultimately permitted. The project united some and divided others. Attorney Philip Z. Kimball brought the parties together and negotiated a permit on the Artist’s behalf.

Leon Reid IV is known for creating humorous works in the public realm, his first forays were experienced as a teenage graffiti writer in the mid-1990’s. Since 2005 his works have been commissioned in cities throughout the world. Selected commissions include:

“True Yank” : Hip-hop props placed on bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln. Commissioned by Urbis contemporary art center2009, Manchester, U.K.

“Free As A Bird” : Larger than life vulture installed on top of a maximum security prison. Commissioned by CMS Atelier, Missouri State Penitentiary, 2008, Jefferson City, MO,

“The Grazers” : Anthropomorphic parking meters feeding from nearby tree. Commissioned by The City of Syracuse, 2007, Syracuse, NY.

“Love Is A Two-Way Street” : Pair of Brazilian street signs sitting beside each other on a bench. Commissioned by S.E.S.C, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2007

Future plans for public display include “A Spider Lurks In Brooklyn” a massive sculptural intervention to take place on the Brooklyn Bridge fiscally sponsored by New York Foundation For The Arts/Artspire.

For further information about “Tourist-In-Chief” or any other project please visit Leon Reid IV is available for interviews by phone or e-mail, feel free to use the contact details as listed above.

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