Glowing globes of tech debris lighting up Madison Square Park

One of the globes lit up in the park at dusk (Photo by Yasunori Matsui)

One of the globes lit up in the park at dusk (Photo by Yasunori Matsui)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Madison Square Park Conservancy will be debuting sparkling transparent glass globes filled with discarded bits of technology in its next public art installation, opening in the park today. The sculptures come from artist Paula Hayes in her first outdoor exhibition, which will be on view in the southwest gravel area through April 19.

“Gazing Globes” features 18 transparent spheres filled with various media debris, including old radio parts, discarded computer parts, glass vacuum tubes, micro glass beads and shredded rubber tires, all covered in shimmering dust from pulverized CDs.

The Conservancy said that the spheres, which are 16, 18 and 24 inches in diameter, will be on fiberglass pedestals ranging from 24 to 47 inches off the ground and the globes will be lit from within.

Hayes, an American visual artist based in New York who has also worked as a landscape designer, usually works with plants and has previously created terrariums. The installation in Madison Square Park looks like a collection of traditional terrariums on first glance but Hayes made a crucial switch with the project.

“The sculptures are being installed during the winter and they’re in a park surrounded by a city, so I thought of the park itself as the terrarium,” she said.

“It’s like I turned it inside out and I thought of these bubbles as the world outside the plants so it was kind of an inverse approach.”

She added that she was also mindful of the wintry conditions, so the lighting from the shining up from bottom of the globes is an attempt to brighten up the park during the dreary weather.

“The illumination was important,” she said. “This is very much a nighttime experience. In the darkness of winter, it becomes very enchanted. So instead of only the sun, the light is shining up from below.”

Hayes was pleased that she was able to work in Madison Square Park for her first foray into public art.

“It’s one of the premiere and beautiful parks in the city and it has a very Victorian feeling. It’s laid out extremely beautifully,” she said. “I really appreciate the amount of liveliness it has and the programming they do. It’s one of the great hearts of the city. It’s a great, lively place to engage with the public.”

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David Axelrod, former Obama adviser and Stuy Town native, releases memoir

President Barack Obama (right) with David Axelrod (second to left) and others in the Oval Office (Photo by Pete Souza/ White House)

President Barack Obama (right) with David Axelrod (second to left) and others in the Oval Office (Photo by Pete Souza/ White House)

By Sabina Mollot

David Axelrod, the former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, who’d also helped strategize campaigns for him and a slew of other elected officials, and who worked as an adviser to President Bill Clinton, has recently written a book about his professional experiences. The Stuyvesant Town native, whose introduction to the world of politics began with a historic visit from then-Senator John F. Kennedy to the street where he lived, has called the memoir, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics ($35, Penguin). While in the midst of a multi-state media tour, Axelrod, now the director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, discussed his book, his background and his career with Town & Village.

What was growing up in Stuyvesant Town like for you?

I grew up reading your newspaper. It was a great experience. It was a different kind of community than it is now. It was pretty modest. A lot of World War II veterans and families, and it was really an oasis in the city. We all got together in the playground. I’m still friends with a lot of people I grew up with. Some of them came to my book event in New York and some of them are coming to my event in Boston. Back then there was a real sense of community in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper. The people you grew up with you stuck with from nursery to high school and ultimately through life. I have a great association with Stuyvesant Town and growing up there.

I was just there a week ago to film a piece for CBS about my book. We walked on 20th. My first address was 622 East 20th Street. We talked about the day in 1960 when JFK came and campaigned in Stuyvesant Town. I was noticing the change in the community, all the high end kind of stores and air conditioners in every window, because we didn’t have that back then. It looked like a very upgraded version of what I remember. When we lived at 622, my parents were mostly still married, but they did split up when I was eight. Then my mom and I moved to 15 Stuyvesant Oval. My mother was a writer and worked in advertising and my father was a psychologist. I had an older sister, Joan. At 622, it was a two-bedroom, so Joan and I shared a bedroom with a wooden divider.

As you know, Stuyvesant Town apartments are small, small kitchens, small bathrooms. By today’s standards, the apartments were very modest, but it seemed comfortable to me. My parents got divorced when I was 13 and my mom and I went to live at 15 Stuyvesant Oval. My sister was gone by then. My mom moved in 1948 and moved out in 2006 to an assisted living facility in Massachusetts. She died last year. (Axelrod’s father committed suicide in 1977.)

There was a lot of activity and my group was the Playground 10 group. There were parts of Stuyvesant Town that were predominantly Jewish and parts of Stuyvesant Town that were predominantly Catholic and parts that were predominantly Protestant, and the playgrounds roughly followed those ethnic divisions. Like Playground 9 was where the Catholic kids hung out. There were very few minorities back then.

I went to PS 40 and Junior High School 104 and Stuyvesant High School when it was still on 16th Street. In my day they were excellent public schools. I still have a teacher in my head who played a formative role in my life. It was at PS 40 and her name was Lee Roth. She brought poets to our classroom, well-known poets of the day, like Ogden Nash. In the classroom, she would engage us in discussions on current events. It really enriched my life and I feel a debt of gratitude to all the people like her.

JFK crowd at 1st ave

When JFK came to Stuyvesant Town in 1960, David Axelrod was in attendance. This photo, originally published in Town & Village, also appears in his book.

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The road to reform in Albany

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

The King is dead. Long live the King!

By now you have heard, ad nauseum, about the indictments and resignation of Sheldon Silver as speaker of the New York State Assembly. Assemblyman Carl Heastie from the Bronx has been elected as speaker.

The stunning downfall of Mr. Silver is very sad on many levels. On a personal note he has been a friend and an ally. I believe that as the leader of the Assembly for 21 years he accomplished much. Notwithstanding the charges of personal corruption alleged against him which a court must ultimately decide, I believe that from a public policy standpoint, Silver leaves his post and the state better off than he found it. But if his arrest and fall from grace is the ultimate result and legacy of this year’s legislative session in Albany that will be sadder still. Reform is needed and badly. And if not now, when?

The public needs to have confidence in its elected officials and its government institutions. Plainly said, today they do not.

The road to reform does not begin and end with the State Assembly; it must go through the State Senate as well as the governor’s office. Reform does not mean replacing one leader for another; it means systemic and enduring changes that will hold public officials to a higher standard of conduct. And it will mean that current office holders, including the governor, will have to sacrifice some of their current and cherished prerogatives.

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Letters to the Editor, Feb. 19

Feb19 Toon Capitol gray

Bank policy less than user friendly

Many years ago my lawyer suggested a durable power of attorney document for me and my husband. I put our durable power of attorney documents away until I felt that I might need to use it to pay the ongoing bills.

Recently he was hospitalized and I went to the Chase Bank on First Avenue directly across from Stuyvesant Town on Fifteenth Street. After two days of being asked questions, I was told that it would be in action the next day. The next day, I was told by the bank officer that the document had been refused because it had not been written up in the last six months.

I then said that people do not do this every six months, but only get it done to use in an emergency. She said there was nothing she could do, for that was the rule.

I have my own checking account there and have been a customer for about 20-30 years and even when I brought that up I was still not someone passing through New York City, she still could not do anything for me. I called my lawyer who said that it was just the policy of Chase Bank and did not know of a six-month limit in other cases.

My husband has since recovered and I am going to update this document. I am writing to advise and to warn my neighbors of this ruling by Chase. It might be time to look around for another bank, for I always thought that I could use it whenever an emergency arose.

Mary Devers, ST

Tenants’ subletting is none of TA’s business

Re: “Subletting requires more than just matchmaking,” letter, T&V., Jan. 15, which was written in response to the T&V Jan. 8 article, “New business aims to find sublets for students in Stuyvesant Town”

To the editor:

In years past, the Tenants Association used to stand with tenants. However, in Susan Steinberg’s letter lambasting the sublet matchmaking service, the TA is standing with the property owner. Whose side are they really on?

They are focused on outing the tenants who may need to sublet their apartment for totally valid and legitimate reasons, and may not wish to go to the landlord for approval.

Legally speaking, a tenant who overcharges a sub-letter can be liable for treble damages. And, whether or not they sublet is provided in the terms of their lease with landlords, which is construed liberally in favor of tenants by state courts. Tenants are responsible for knowing the rules.

It seems like the TA is taking an “anti-youth” position here. Tenants do not need the Tenants Association providing “helicopter parenting” to lecture them on what they may or not do.

Name Withheld, ST