The Criminal Court /
Family Court Building

215 East 161st Street
900 Sheridan Avenue


Bronx Housing Court

1118 Grand Concourse (between McClelland St.
and East 166th St.)


 





The Criminal Court / Family Court Building was designed by Harrison & Abramovitz, the firm responsible for the planning and design of the principle buildings at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. In addition to two large mosaic tile murals by the African-American artist Charles Alston, there were twelve commissions for banners and tapestries of various sizes (eight are still in site; four are missing) awarded to nine artists. Alston's murals are found in separate lobbies: Equal Justice Under the Law in the entry of the Criminal Court, The Family for the Family Court. Equal Justice Under the Law contains five equally sized but differently colored globe-like forms representing the five races of man. Similarly, in The Family variously colored abstract figures set against a blue background represent the family of man. These very modern looking, almost abstract panels, are markedly different from Alston's multi-figured compositions done 35 years earlier for Harlem Hospital.

The twelve textile works represent a younger generation of artists and collectively a virtual who's who of contemporary artists active in the mid 1970s. They include Theodore Stamos, Ivan Chermayeff, Robert Goodnough, Alexander Calder, Larry Zox, Ilya Bolotowsky, Jack Youngerman, Charles Hinman, and Roy Lichtenstein. In the second floor lobby of the Criminal Court are tapestries by Stamos and Lichtenstein, while on the seventh floor lobby of the Family Court are wall hangings by Goodnough, Calder, Zox, and Chermayeff.

Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid's two paintings for the Housing Court, Liberty as Justice and Justice, blend the iconography of the Statue of Liberty with the allegorical figure of Justice. These allegorical works have their source in the New York State seal which includes a globe and eagle flanked by the figures of Liberty and Justice. The artists, known for their use of social realism as a vehicle for conceptual irony, see this work in the tradition of Jasper John's Flags and Andy Warhol's Maos and Hammers and Sickles.

Jorge Tacla's paintings for the Housing Court remind the viewer that above all else, the issues of the Housing Court are that of "place." A map of the Bronx, a blueprint drawing of the Housing Court building, and suggestions of earth and terrain allude to Bronx land and housing issues.


The Criminal Court / Family Court Bulding
Charles Alston
Equal Justice Under the Law, 1976
mosaic, 96" x 432"
Criminal Court, Department of General Services / FA
The Family, 1976
mosaic, 144" x 264"
Family Court
Department of General Services / FA


Bronx Housing Court

Vitaly Komar & Alexander Melamid
Liberty as Justice and Justice, 1998
2 oil on canvas murals
6' x 8'
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
Percent for Art Program
Office of Court Administration
Office of the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety
Department of General Services
Jorge Tacla
Memories of the Bronx, , 1998
2 oil on canvas paintings
NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
Percent for Art Program
Office of Court Administration
Office of the Deputy Mayor for
Public Safety
Department of General Services


[More about the artists]

[More about the Grand Concourse]