Outdoor Museums: Art in Parks

This weekend, take in some of the exceptional public art in the city’s parks.

There’s so much to see. Exhibits include experimental and traditional art, in many park locations. They explore various themes including: Disappearing businesses, issues of race, issues of class, diversity, cultural displacements, overlooked portions of New York City history, and much more.

The Art in Parks program began in the late 60s with an intention to use public spaces as outdoor museums, “letting works of art ‘loose in the city, to set them under the light of day where they intrude upon our daily walks and errands.'”

A few you can catch right now:

Come Closer and The View Gets Widerby Rebecca Manson – at Tribeca Park.

Public Art: Globe/Sphere in the Park: "Come Closer and The View Gets Wider" by Rebecca Manson - at Tribeca Park.

Photo credit: Rebecca Manson, Come Closer and the View Gets Wider, courtesy of the artist.

“… a sphere of tiny porcelain sculptures, each an intimate, bone-like shape, adhered and supported by an elaborate system of aluminum and epoxy. Comprised of innumerable parts which on their own may appear insignificant, the structure celebrates the idea that small things together amount to something impactful; a monument to collective consciousness.”

Mom-and-Pops of the L.E.S. by Karla & James Murray – at Seward Park.

Public Art: Full-Size photographs of "Mom-and-Pops of the L.E.S." by Karla & James Murray - at Seward Park.

Photo Credit: Karla & James Murray

 “Karla and James Murray’s wood-framed sculpture consists of near life-size photographs of four mom-and-pop neighborhood stores of the Lower East Side, which are no longer in business and have disappeared from the streetscape. Images of a bodega, a coffee shop/luncheonette, a vintage store, and a newsstand recognize the unique and irreplaceable contribution made to New York by small, often family-owned businesses.”

Our Memories by Judith Modrak – at Thomas Paine Park.

Stone figures - in park: "Our Memories" by Judith Modrak - at Thomas Paine Park.

(Image courtesy of the artist – at nycgovparks.org)

Our Memories is an evolving audience participatory installation. Recognizing the need to record one’s personal experience, these neuron-inspired sculptures contain cavities in which participants place a color-coded “memory stone”. The memory stones are classified into six emotive categories: joy, anger, love, sadness, fear, and surprise. This active act of recollection not only stirs up personal memories, it also physiologically generates a new collective memory. The Our Memories project is both a larger memorial piece, made complete by thousands of individual memories from people all over the world, and an experience that connects us to our core and to one another.”

Adorn Me by Tanda Francis – at Fort Greene Park

"Adorn Me" by Tanda Francis - at Fort Greene Park

Image credit: Tanda Francis, Adorn Me, Photo by NYC Parks

“Tanda Francis’ work examines the African presence in public space as a powerful force of beauty and cultural relevance. Inspired by African sculptural tradition, including Ife portraiture, Francis also incorporates Victorian and colonial ornamentation into her work. Adorn Me addresses the underrepresentation of this demographic in public artworks, and provide a healing message during a time of heated debate over monuments erected as symbols of oppression and control.”

Beyond being intriguing pieces, art can have profound influence, as this experience demonstrates:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

UGLY . A few weeks ago ( before blackening the surface of the #AdornMeSculpture ) I was working on the installation when a group of about 6 pre-teen to teenaged African American girls ranging in age from about 11-15 walked toward the sculpture ooohing and wowing over it. One little girl spoke up and said “I don’t like it.” All the other girls asked her why. She scrunched her little nose up and said “It’s her nose, it’s so big. Why’d *they* make her nose so big” Up until that point, The kids didn’t pay any attention to me. I must have been a worker cleaning the sculpture. But at this point, yours truly enters the conversation. “I made it like that because that’s how my nose is made. I made it to look like my nose. Instantly the poor thing realized that I was the creator and the model of this thing she so confidently declared ugly. She must have thought she hurt my feelings but she actually gifted me with this shareable moment. Shocked. Her mouth hung open for a while before she could manage to say “I didn’t know.” Her face was in between this 😳 and this 😣. So this is how it looks to witnessing a lifelong memory being imprinted into a child. And I’m like 😌yeah. Let that set in. Anyway, While the other girls giggled and seemed elated that it wasn’t their foot that needed to be fish out of their mouth, I was completely unbothered and armed with a real-time case study. A testament to the validity of my work 😘 I said “It’s ok. She’s just not used to seeing someone who looks like this featured in this way. That’s why I did this sculpture and put it here. I’ve seen many people stand here and say with a smile “she looks like me!” One of the older girls added “Yeah, I know, I’ve seen people who can be pretty even thought they have a big nose.” Me “Did you ever consider that they are pretty *because* their nose is big? Maybe her nose at that size is a part of her beauty. But you would never consider that because you are almost exclusively shown beauty from another point of view.” In the end, they all seemed sense an overall point to the piece being there… and ladies and gentlemen, that is why I do what I do 😉 👋🏾 . . . 🎤 ✨ #micdrop

A post shared by Tanda Francis (@tandafrancis) on