Birds of a feather: Creative talents flock together


At the New-York Historical Society two years ago, Anton van Dalen discussed his art and its relation to the Lower East Side. Van Dalen has one of the East Village’s last remaining pigeon coops, on Avenue A between 11th and 12th Sts. Wearing a model of his tenement on his head, above, he twirled a parasol-like mobile with cutout pigeons, evoking the whirling flight of the coop’s birds above the neighborhood. Van Dalen is known for his ongoing project, started in 1980, to create “a picture language with stencil imagery.” He has completed or is currently working on several Percent for Art public art projects, including at P.S./M.S. 20 and Lehman College in the Bronx, in the Nevins St. subway station in Brooklyn and at the College of Staten Island. “To inform my public art, I have studied how tribal and classical cultures through their symbols defined their living spaces,” van Dalen said in 2001. “How friezes, repeat motifs and decorative borders have outlined, enclosed and enlightened our human life since the beginning of time.” Below, van Dalen was joined by Robert Frank — whose 1958 book “The Americans” remains a masterpiece of documentary photography — and Frank’s wife, sculptor June Leaf, sporting a van Dalen “art hat.” Frank formerly lived on Bleecker St. near Bowery but recently moved to Union Square.