Artist honors Astoria-born Christopher Walken with concrete busts at Socrates Sculpture Park

Photo by Steven Speliotis

Christopher Walken is arguably one of the most famous actors to hail from Astoria and a Queens-based artist decided to honor the actor with a series of concrete cast busts.

Bryan Zanisnik, an artist based in Ridgewood, is showcasing his work as a part of Socrates Sculpture Park‘s Emerging Artist Fellowship (EAF) exhibition. In addition to the 10 busts, “Monument to Walken” features a comic by Eric Winkler that outlines Walken’s history in the neighborhood.


Every year, Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City provides 15 artists with an open studio, monetary support and guidance to complete their work. Hundreds of artists submitted applications, and from June through September, the chosen artists worked on-site to create their pieces.

Zanisnik, who creates large-scale installations and videos, is also an artist-in-residence at the Queens Museum.

“This year we asked artists to think about the site and history of Socrates Sculpture Park because it’s our 30th anniversary,” said Jess Wilcox, spokesperson for Socrates Sculpture Park. “Bryan took a quite interesting approach to doing that, thinking about Astoria as a neighborhood that had its own unique culture who produced this actor that we all know and love.”

The 15 pieces will be on display until March 13 and since the pieces are installed outdoors, visitors will be able to see them through the seasons.

Walken, known for his very distinct speaking style and his versatility as an actor, often playing unstable characters, was born in Astoria in 1943. His father, Paul, owned Walken’s Bakery at 29-17 Broadway. The building is now home to Broadway Hardware.

Walken has been featured in more than 100 movies including “Seven Psychopaths,” “Catch Me If You Can” and “Annie Hall.” He won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role in “The Deer Hunter.”

Socrates Sculpture Park is located at 32-01 Vernon Blvd. and is open every day from 9 a.m. to sunset.

For a list of and description of the other EAF pieces, visit Socrates Sculpture Park’s website.

Comic by Eric Winkler
Photo by Nate Dorr