Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 12
 
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
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Gateway Sculpture to Commemorate Life of Albert E. Hinds in Library Plaza

Dilshanie Perera

Over the 104 years of his life, Albert E. Hinds saw Princeton undergo seismic social and political changes. An African American born in 1902, he attended the Witherspoon Elementary School when it was segregated; helped pave Nassau Street; drove a horse-powered carriage to pick up passengers from Princeton Junction; coached at the YMCA; attended the Mount Pisgah African Methodist Episcopal Church on Witherspoon Street over the course of his entire life; and even taught a calisthenics class for seniors when he was well into his 90s. An active member on various boards of municipal government, Mr. Hinds served the community in a multitude of ways over his lifetime.

His achievements will be commemorated by a cut stainless steel sculpture designed by Montclair-based artist Tom Nussbaum to be installed in the plaza named for Mr. Hinds that is just outside the public library. Borough Mayor and Council made the plaza’s name official in an April 2007 vote.

Representing a gateway that is forever open, the sculpture will be installed on either side of the two diagonally-aligned pathways running across the square at the Witherspoon street entrances to the plaza. Two plaques will be embedded in the plaza surface detailing salient features of Mr. Hinds’s life, and directing people to a telephone number they can call to access an audio guide to the project.

Mr. Nussbaum and members of the Hinds Memorial Committee presented their vision to Borough Council at a recent meeting, with the artist explaining that the sculpture’s decorative motif is developed from “patterns from traditional American quilts that reflect a mix of ethnic influences,” which are “combined to symbolize a diverse community coming together, something that Mr. Hinds strove to accomplish.”

The artwork will feature one of Mr. Hinds’s favorite sayings, “It’s always the right time to do the right thing,” which will be surrounded by the aforementioned motifs. One of the patterns even mimics the shape of the hubcap of Mr. Hind’s last car, a 1988 Mercury Sable.

The designs will be cut out of the steel surface, with Mr. Nussbaum anticipating that “the intricately cut patterns will cast a beautiful shadow.” Each gateway panel will be eight feet long, and will be three feet tall at the lowest end, and five feet tall at the highest end.

In addition to the audio guide, a permanent website will further explain the project and contain biographical information about Mr. Hinds.

Hinds Memorial Committee Chair Wendy Benchley explained that the committee was hoping to raise $90,000 for the project, with Mr. Nussbaum receiving $24,300 for his work. “We would love to have a contribution from the Borough, but that is up to you,” she added.

Prior to coming before Borough Council for approval, all requisite funds must be raised, and the design must be approved by plaza developer Nassau HKT.

Other Hinds Memorial Committee members include Judith K. Brodsky, artist and distinguished professor emerita, Rutgers University; Leslie Burger, director of the Princeton Public Library; James Floyd, former Mayor of Princeton Township; Jeff Nathanson, director of the Princeton Arts Council; Shirley Satterfield, historian of the Witherspoon-Jackson Community; Kate Somers, curatorial consultant and director of the Bernstein Gallery at Princeton University; and Susan Taylor, former director of the Princeton University Art Museum.

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