The name of one of New York City’s most influential artists can now be viewed on the corner from where he once operated his studio.
Before his passing in 1978, German immigrant and artist Carl Paul Jennewein built his nationally recognized sculptures from 538 Van Nest Avenue for over 50 years.
At 17 years old, Jennewein immigrated from Stuttgart, Germany in 1907 and continued his studies of painting and sculptures. In the city alone, some of Jennewein’s work can be seen at the entrance of the Brooklyn Public Library, paintings in the entrance hall of the Woolworth Building, and sculptures at the British Building entrance at Rockefeller Center.
His work has not gone unnoticed, especially to generations of residents in the Van Nest community. On Thursday, June 2, the corner of Van Nest Avenue and Melville Street was officially renamed Carl Paul Jennewein Place.
“Carl Paul Jennewein graced us with his gift of art sculptures that will continue to be appreciated throughout the United States each and every day,” said Councilman Joel Rivera, who sponsored the bill to have the corner renamed. “We know his story, artistry and his craft will live on in the Bronx and the art world forever inspiring generations to follow.”
The idea to rename the corner came from East Bronx History Forum treasurer and Van Nest resident Richard Vitacco. The bill was signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg on December 20, 2010.
Vitacco, along with elected officials and dozens of Van Nest residents, was joined by James Jennewein, 81-year-old architect and son of the late Carl Paul, who travelled with his wife from their home in Tampa, Florida to honor the man that he called “Pop.”
James Jennewein vividly remembers playing outside of his father’s studio on Van Nest Avenue and getting free cold cuts from an Italian grocery that used to be next door. He was proud to know that his father’s hard work has left a strong legacy in the community.
“My father provided so many sculptures for New York City and all over the country, but he loved having his studio right here in this Bronx neighborhood,” Jennewein said. “When I received a phone call from Richard Vitacco, I could not have been more happy. It was a great pleasure to come back here, relive wonderful memories, and most importantly, honor my father.”
James Jennewein was presented with a certificate from the East Bronx History Forum’s president Bill Twomey, as well as a State Proclamation from Senator Jeff Klein, making June 2nd “Carl Paul Jennewein Day” in New York State.