Tatzu Nishi was brought to New York by the Public Art Fund in order to find the perfect project for our city streets. He stumbled upon the Christopher Columbus statue and was immediately drawn to the dichotomy of its public location – so central and at the same time, so estranged from the public. To bring people closer to this great sculpture, he decided to build six stories of scaffolding up to the statue and construct a pop-up living room with Columbus as the centerpiece. The room is fully furnished with tables, lamps, and even couches and chairs with magazines and newspapers for people to sit down and enjoy. Columbus, who stands proudly in the middle of the coffee table, is presented in an entirely new format for the first time in 120 years. The artist also designed custom wallpaper with images of what he imagined New York to be like as a child growing up in Japan. The playful paper includes images of Mickey Mouse, Elvis, and McDonald’s.

Mayor Bloomberg attended the opening today, lauding the Public Art Fund’s continuing dedication to bringing new and exciting art to New Yorkers, while also thanking locals for appreciating and respecting public art around the city. He noted that “Discovering Columbus” is not only about getting a closer look at America’s history, but also taking the time out to acknowledge the various nationalities that have helped shape the nation and New York. Tatzu Nishi also spoke briefly, encouraging visitors to take advantage of this amazing free exhibit that was created for each and everyone one of them.

After the three month exhibit, the statue will undergo a much needed restoration. The artsy apartment will undoubtedly aid in touching up the monument that has stood too high for regular cleanings since its creation. Nicholas Baume, Chief Curator of “Discovering Columbus” put it best this morning saying “Christopher Columbus gets to live the New York dream. After 120 years with only pigeons for company, he now will live in a penthouse in Columbus Circle, with views of Central Park, and enjoy a housewarming party with an expected 100,000 people.”

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