Much like the real rats of New York City, it appears the “Trump Rat” that sprang up near Trump Tower on Monday will be making Manhattan its home for the long haul.
The 15-foot-tall vinyl rat made to look like the president, with its coiffed blond hair and signature hand gestures, remained outside Trump Tower near 59th Street Tuesday. Although it will come down later in the evening, fans of the Trump Rat will likely see it again (and soon) in Chelsea, according to John Post Lee, who commissioned the inflatable.
“We’re here this afternoon and this evening … probably won’t be coming back here, but I’m going to put it up in Chelsea,” the Upper West Side resident said.
Lee, who co-owns the BravinLee art gallery in Chelsea, said there may be space outside of his business on West 26th Street, but he’s also looking into some unused ground-floor space nearby.
“I just want to keep it up and around,” he said, adding that he also hopes to take it to Washington, D.C., where it could meet up with the Trump Chicken that recently made an appearance on the White House lawn. “I think it would be great to have an extreme cage match between the chicken and the rat.”
The chicken might have the advantage: That inflatable is 23 feet tall.
The Trump Rat may eventually have a posse, however, as it looks to be just the first in a line of Trump administration characters produced by Lee and his backers on Kickstarter.
“I want to make a really small Jeff Sessions toy poodle,” he said about the potential for a “Marvel Universe-style” cast of characters.
Monday’s protest outside of Trump Tower ahead of the president’s return to New York City was the first time Lee has displayed the Trump Rat.
Lee, 58, said he commissioned the piece to express his “disgust” with President Donald Trump. His inspiration? The giant inflatable rats that construction unions use when non-union workers are at a site.
“Even though this is not art per se, it’s actually amazing public art,” Lee said. “Once this clown was elected … I was passing one of these rats on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City and it came to me that I’ve got to make a rat with Trump features.”
Lee said after the November election, he was stunned at how many people would vote for a candidate without fully knowing what his policies would be.
“I look at policy and behind the policies are ideology and you go one by one … You can’t have a meaningful conversation with a person … without specifically going into these issues,” he explained. “I didn’t really know what Trump’s policies were going to be. And that’s a scary thought that he could get so many votes without anyone knowing what he was going to do.”
Lee, like many who protested outside of Trump Tower on Monday, said he does not think Trump is fit to be president.
Though the gallery owner is no stranger to the use of public art to make a statement, this was the first time he and his wife, Karin Bravin, have made a political statement of this magnitude.
“I do believe in the power of ridicule,” Lee said. “Ridicule has been used since the Roman times, since the Greeks. This is a human being whose skin is so thin, it’s even thinner than this vinyl rat. I wouldn’t be surprised if he sees it and it gets under his skin.”
The inflatable rat was originally designed by artist Jeffrey Beebe and was made in the United States.
“Unlike Trump’s suits, this was made in America,” Lee said, referring to Trump’s brand of clothing often being manufactured overseas.
Trump arrived in Manhattan Monday night following a day of protests outside of his namesake building. He is expected to remain in the city until Wednesday for a series of meetings.
Though the president hasn’t commented on his look-alike rat directly, he did tweet from Trump Tower Monday night, saying “Feels good to be home after seven months, but the White House is very special, there is no place like it… and the U.S. is really my home!”
More protests were planned for Tuesday outside of Trump Tower.
With Laura Figueroa