Picasso Sighting in New York City—He’s Mowing his Lawn

Howard Schwartz 7 June 2018 min Read

I looked across the street and saw Pablo Picasso mowing his lawn. He was ten feet tall. He was inside a fence, which was unusual, and the expression on his face, with both eyes bulging and a look of disgust on his thin lips, made me think that he felt he was wasting his time. Every minute Picasso spent mowing his lawn was one minute he wasn’t able to spend with a paintbrush in one hand and a palette in the other, working on his latest painting.

Pablo Picasso mowing his lawn
Elliott Arkin, ‘The Spanish Gardener’, Brooklyn, NY, Photo by Howard Schwartz

The rectangular patch of grass was not even worth mowing. It was a sickly green color with uneven patches of yellow. The grass was short enough the way it was, but at least Picasso was dressed appropriately for the occasion. He was wearing a black and white horizontally striped shirt and he was wearing shorts. The day was warm. The rectangular patch of grass was small enough that two steps in any direction would have been enough to cover most of the area.

It turns out that upon closer inspection, one could see that this was not the real Pablo Picasso, but rather a sculpture that was artfully made by Elliott Arkin. My first emotion upon seeing it was a surprise. I was not viewing this work of art in a gallery or museum; I was viewing it on an unassuming street corner in Brooklyn. The unassuming street corner is Degraw Street and Columbia Street in the Columbia Waterfront District. This sculpture has a name: ‘The Spanish Gardener.’ Picasso will be mowing the lawn at this location until July 15, 2018.

Pablo Picasso mowing his lawn
Elliott Arkin, ‘The Spanish Gardener’, Brooklyn, NY, Photo by Howard Schwartz

This is from the description of the sculpture that was posted on the gate:

“The Spanish Gardener is Elliott Arkin’s largest work to date and is a continuation in his series depicting historical figures as gardening lawn gnomes. The sculptures were the subject of  ‘A Peaceable Kingdom,’ a recent major solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art’s (MAMAC) roof-top garden in Nicke, France. First sketched in 2004 and titled after the American painting by Edward Hicks, ‘A Peaceable Kingdom,’ is derived from images Arkin created as cartoonist-in-residence (along with Nicole Eisenman)…”

My first reaction to seeing this sculpture was a surprise. My second reaction was admiration—the sculpture is expressive and well-done; it looks great from a distance. My third reaction was to enjoy the humor of the situation. Watching Pablo Picasso mowing his lawn is a lot of fun. I tend not to think of famous people doing mundane things. I wish it were possible to walk around the sculpture so I could see it from different views, but street traffic and the locked gate made that wish impossible to fulfill.

The head is made out of fiberglass, the body is made out of urethane and foam, and the lawn mower is “partially composed of a chunk of repurposed telephone pole.” This information is courtesy of Scott Indrisek of

So if you happen to be driving through this neighborhood, I would highly recommend trying to find a parking spot nearby and checking out this delightful work of art. The parking spot may be hard to come by, but it will be well worth the effort.

Find out more:

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Pablo Picasso and His Women



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