Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lin Makes a Yonkers Move

Maya Lin '81, '86 MA and her husband Daniel Wolf purchased an old Yonkers jailhouse (above) to convert into an art gallery and studio for herself and other artists
Maya Lin '81, '86 MA and her art-collector husband Daniel Wolf have touched down in Yonkers.  Like the city's mayor and its leaders, they have a vision of transforming parts of an old, gritty downtown area into something SoHo-like, an arts district that will attract studio artists, exhibitions, galleries, museum patrons, and visitors.

Its Mayor Mike Spano told the New York Times in mid-April that Yonkers hopes to attract artists and young people who would have otherwise opted for Brooklyn.

Last fall, Lin and Wolf purchased an old downtown jailhouse and plan to renovate the structure and turn it into an exhibition house that will show some of the works in Wolf's collection and the works of other artists.  Lin plans to build a second-floor studio, where she and other artists can work.

And Yonkers happily welcomes the couple.  Chuck Lesnick '81, Yonkers City Council president until recently, joined the mayor at the media conference to announce the jailhouse acquisition. In April, artist David Hammons said he will purchase a nearby warehouse to convert into an art gallery.

Yale alumni and just about all who appreciate architecture know Lin best for the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, which she designed and which started as a class project while she was at Yale.  The rest is architecture and design history.

Lin, of course, has had a productive, impactful career that goes beyond her D.C. work. She is also known for her designs of the Civil Rights Memorial in Birmingham, the Langston Hughes Library in Tennessee, and the Timetable on the campus at Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif.

Her footprint at Yale is the Women's Table, erected in 1993, in front of Sterling Library to celebrate the history of women at Yale. She has also received an honorary degree from Yale and served as an alumni fellow on the Yale Corporation.

In Westchester at Manhattanville College, Lin helped restore a campus chapel and designed a classroom made of glass and sustainable wood.

Lin and Wolf purchased the Yonkers jailhouse for $1 million and will likely spend more to renovate it.  The new museum will exhibit contemporary paintings, photography, and Chinese ceramics.

Yet Lin admits something else.  Downtown Yonkers wasn't the only appeal.  Panoramic, waterfront views of the Hudson River helped. "The jail offers enormous potential," Lin told the Journal News last fall. "But the breathtaking view of the Palisades from the doorstep of the Hudson inspires a vision as unique as the building itself."
Lin designed the Women's Table at Yale (top left) and was joined by classmate Chuck Lesnick '81 (bottom left) to announce the purchase of the Yonkers jailhouse last fall (Yale photo, Lesnick photo)

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