Lonely Planet Writer

Meet SPOT, New York's latest piece of artwork, created to make sick children smile

American sculptor Donald Lipski has wowed New York City once again, this time with his creation of SPOT – a 30-foot dalmatian dog balancing a taxi on his snout.

SPOT with the taxi on his snout. Image by Donald Lipski

Part of a giant renovation of NYU Langone Hospital, SPOT is based at 34th Street and 1st Avenue and can be seen from the FDR Highway. It’s part of a new NYU pavilion, opening this July.

The art was created for children attending the nearby hospital. Image by Donald Lipski

The artist, who lives in the neighborhood and has visited the NYU Langone Hospital many times, even having surgeries there himself, made the sculpture for children going into the hospital. “It is a stressful time, and I wanted to make something that would delight them; something so astounding it would distract even those arriving for the most serious procedures, and so lovable that young patients coming back again and again with chronic conditions would see it as an old friend,” said Lipski, who believes there is a reparative quality to art. “Art has actual healing power. That’s a fact! I like to think that the parents, the doctors and nurses and staff, the neighbors, will all love this sweet young dog doing the impossible,” he continued.

The artist was inspired by his belief that art has actual healing powers. Image by Donald Lipski

It wasn’t an easy piece to construct, Lipski worked with engineer Nick Geurts to make it a reality, and after 20 pages of engineering design, they had created something that would withstand a hurricane and flooding worse than Sandy. After gaining approval from Amtrak (which runs a subway tunnel right underneath), realist sculptor Christopher Collins crafted the dog to a scale model. Toyota offered up the real Prius used for the taxi on the top and then the FAST Corporation in Wisconsin made the full-scale dog ready for installation.  

The artist has said to him it’s a privilege to create this work. . Image by Donald Lipski

On the day of installation there were storms and winds that shut down the site. “We just got the taxi up the second day when it started to rain,” explained Lipski, “everyone was telling me to look up—the windshield wipers were on! Ryan Emendorf, our electrical genius, had set them up with a rain sensor as a surprise for me.”

Award-winning Lipski, originally from Chicago, has lived in New York since the ‘70s and has a special connection to SPOT, “this is a special piece for me in so many ways. It’s a privilege to be able to do this.”

Sirshasana, a spectacular chandelier created by Lipski at Grand Central Terminal. Image by Peter Aaron

A few blocks away, at Grand Central Market at Grand Central Terminal, on Lexington Ave, visitors and residents of New York can view another of Lipski’s pieces named Sirshasana; a chandelier in the form of an upside-down olive tree.