FOR MORE THAN A QUARTER CENTURY, award-winning landscape painter Daniel Hauben has set up his easel under elevated subway trains, at street corners and on overpasses, capturing the life of the Bronx on canvas and paper.
In the last two years, however, Hauben, 55, has stayed inside, working in his Riverdale studio to create monumental art pieces for the new, $102-million, three-story North Hall and Library complex at Bronx Community College.
Twenty-two paintings that BCC associate professor of art Mary Jo Mazzella Ben-Nun described as “glorious panoramas of the Bronx” will be unveiled when the 98,600-square-foot buildings developed by New York architect Robert A.M. Stern, is dedicated in the fall.
Working in oil on two 10-by-5- foot and 20 5-by-1½-foot canvases, Hauben painted brilliant scenes from across the borough, including depictions of campus life with students and views of Yankee Stadium and the Harlem, Hudson and East River Bridges.
“I think of them as glorious panoramas of the Bronx,” says Ben-Nun, who is also director of the Hall of Fame Art Gallery at the college.
The two major panels will be hung in the library’s stairwell and the smaller pieces along a balcony overlooking the main reading room. In addition to the library, the new building will contain classrooms, offices and a café. With an enrollment of 11,500 and “the digital age upon us, we needed to expand,” says Ben-Nun.
Hauben won a $219,000 state-sponsored commission to do the work for the library in a 2008 competition. “He takes things you and I might not think interesting and makes us look at how exciting the world is right around us,” says Ruth Bass, head of BCC’s Art and Music Department and a member of the art committee headed by Dean of Administration and Finance David Taylor that selected Hauben as the finalist.
“I consider myself a landscape painter,” says Bronx native Hauben, “and the landscape I’m most familiar with is the Bronx. I think it’s rich with potential for being a reflection of how the world is changing.” Hauben, who remembers painting his first “cityscape” on his bedroom wall when he was 8, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York.
In 1988, Hauben — who travels and paints worldwide — had a solo show at Bronx Museum of the Arts. His works are in collections at the Museum of the City of New York, the New York Historical Society, the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress. In March, he received the Poe Award for Literary and Artistic Excellence from the Bronx Historical Society.
For the past eight years, as an adjunct instructor, Hauben has taught a class in drawing in the architecture program at City College. “They let me do my thing,” he says. Between the teaching and the commission, CUNY has played a big role in my life the last couple of years.”
Go to www.danielhauben.com for a peek at panels that will be displayed in the library.