Animated light sculpture debuts in Madison Square Park

“Whiteout,” now on view at Madison Square Park (Photo courtesy of the Madison Square Park Conservancy)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Madison Square Park Conservancy debuted the newest installation earlier this month, featuring a light project from artist Erwin Redl. The conservancy commissioned Redl to create “Whiteout,” which is displayed on the park’s central lawn and is a large-scale kinetic light sculpture made of white spheres suspended from a grid with steel poles and cabling. The orbs, hanging about a foot from the ground, sway in the wind and the LEDs are animated in large-scale patterns.

Redl is known for creating other large-scale light projects on the facades of buildings and he was first inspired by yarn drawings from minimalist conceptual artist Fred Sandback in 1997.

Redl said that he was fascinated by the option to have such a large installation in the park that is also within an urban environment.

“The physicality of the swaying orbs in conjunction with the abstract animations of their embedded white lights allows the public to explore a new, hybrid reality in this urban setting,” he said.

Madison Square Park Conservancy executive director Keats Meyer said that the installation is especially enjoyable during the dark winter months because it can show how light impacts space.

“Park goers will be able to view the industrial elegance of Whiteout from our pathways as they traverse the site,” she said. “Redl’s project, based on how light can impact a space, will be a beauteous interpretation of the Oval Lawn during the shortest days of the calendar year.”

Art consultancy firm UAP worked with Redl and the conservancy to fabricate the installation. The company, which has offices in Brisbane and Shanghai as well as New York, has also worked with artist Ai Wei Wei on the recent project in Washington Square Park, “Arch: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.”

The Madison Square Park Conservancy launched public art programming through Mad. Sq. Art in 2004 and Redl’s installation is the 35th outdoor exhibition that the conservancy has organized. “Whiteout” will be on display through March 25, 2018.

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Art festival will focus on race

An artist participating in the upcoming Art in Odd Places festival, Walis Johnson, will have a mobile installation along 14th Street detailing how people of color faced discrimination in Stuyvesant Town and other areas. (Pictured) Some of the artifacts that go along with stories she’s collected by doing interviews (Photo courtesy of Walis Johnson)

An artist participating in the upcoming Art in Odd Places festival, Walis Johnson, will have a mobile installation along 14th Street detailing how people of color faced discrimination in Stuyvesant Town and other areas. (Pictured) Some of the artifacts that go along with stories she’s collected by doing interviews (Photo courtesy of Walis Johnson)

By Sabina Mollot

There’s no question that race is the most widely covered topic this year in the news, whether the word’s in reference to the upcoming presidential election or race as in skin color, with recent protests stemming from the Black Lives Matter movement. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s the theme chosen for artists to run with in what is sure to be a politically charged Art in Odd Places festival.

The annual art show, which features both visual and performance art pieces along the length of 14th Street for a few days, is set to run this year from October 6-9.

This year there will be 34 artists, most of them with works that are performance based. The event was founded by teaching artist Ed Woodham, and this year there are four curators: Elissa Blount-Moorhead, Rylee Eterginoso, Tumelo Mosaka and Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi.

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Stuyvesant Town residents’ gallery to show the secret art of Dr. Seuss

“Unorthodox taxidermy” sculpture by Theodor Geisel a.k.a. Dr. Seuss (Photos courtesy of Pop International Galleries)

“Unorthodox taxidermy” sculpture by Theodor Geisel a.k.a. Dr. Seuss (Photos courtesy of Pop International Galleries)

By Sabina Mollot

Get ready for Dr. Seuss’s dark side.

Pop International Galleries, an art gallery owned by a Stuyvesant Town couple, will be holding an exhibition featuring taxidermy-esque sculptures and prints of oil paintings that were made by the artist best known for his whimsical children’s books.

But when Dr. Seuss wasn’t illustrating and writing books like The Cat in the Hat and Hop on Pop, he was working on paintings he referred to as his “secret art” or “midnight art” and the sculptures, which he called his “unorthodox taxidermy,” were a passion of his, early in his career.

This is actually the second time Pop International is showcasing the works of the late Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel. However, unlike the previous show last year, this exhibition features mostly the little-known works. Last time, it was also a mix of sculptures and prints, but there were more prints, limited edition that is, of the more popular book illustrations.

“It’s more about the midnight art (this time),” said Jeff Jaffe, who owns the gallery with wife Nanette Ross. “The stuff he was doing after hours — it was political, a little darker and a little more naughty on some levels.”

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Artist looking for ST residents to interview for art/history project

Walis Johnson, a filmmaker, artist and teacher at Parsons School of Design, is looking to interview residents of Stuyvesant Town who have lived in the neighborhood for 30 years or longer. The conversations will aid in her production of “The Red Line Archive,” a mobile art piece aimed at igniting public dialogue about the political, social and personal impacts of the 1938 Red Line Maps. The project will be part of the Art in Odd Places festival that takes place every October along the length of 14th Street.

Redlining refers to a federal map officially drawn in 1935 that selectively denied financing for housing mortgages, insurance and other services in neighborhoods demarcated by red shading on a map. Redlined neighborhoods became zones of disinvestment and urban neglect where services (both financial and human) were systematically denied to people of color and ethnic working class citizens.

For this years’ AiOP festival, themed “Race,” Johnson is working with photographer Murray Cox and NYU professor Aimee vonBokel to add information to the site specific exhibition about the area of 14th Street from First Avenue to Avenue C.

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Stuyvesant Town resident’s gallery to showcase rare photos of Marilyn Monroe

This photo will be among 75 at a show at Pop International Galleries, opening June 17.

This photo will be among 75 at a show at Pop International Galleries, opening June 17. (All photos courtesy of Andrew Weiss and Pop International Galleries)

By Sabina Mollot

Pop International, the Stuyvesant Town resident-owned art gallery that recently showcased works of fine art by Dr. Seuss, is now gearing up for a big show paying tribute to Marilyn Monroe.

The exhibit, which opens on June 17 and will run through July 1, is expected to feature around 75 photos of the glamour icon, some famous images by well-known photographers, others rarely seen and only recently brought out of archives.

The show, curated by Andrew Weiss, will take place at Pop International’s SoHo location at 473 West Broadway. (The other gallery is located in midtown’s Citicorp building.)

Jeff Jaffe, who owns the gallery with his wife Nanette Ross, spoke to Town & Village this week about the collection, which is comprised of photos by seven photographers and taken over a period of 17 years.

“Andrew Weiss, who is a well-known gallerist on the West Coast, reached out to me through a mutual friend,” said Jaffe. “He asked would we like to do a big Marilyn show, and I said, ‘Is the Pope Catholic?’

“It’s definitely up our alley of pop culture figures,” he added.

Most of the images are from Weiss’s own collection, and he owns the rights to the majority of the negatives. Some of the photos are black and white while others are color and they vary in size from 8 by 10 inches to 30 by 40 inches. All are numbered editions and signed when possible. Prices range from $2,000-$40,000, and the show, “17 Years: Marilyn, the Making of a Legend” coincides with the release of Weiss’s book ($55) of the same name.

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Edward Snowden statue booted from park

A statue of NSA leaker Edward Snowden gets wheeled into Union Square Park. Not long afterwards, the sculptor, Jim Dessicino, was told he had to remove it. (Photo by Brian Wagner)

A statue of NSA leaker Edward Snowden gets wheeled into Union Square Park. Not long afterwards, the sculptor, Jim Dessicino, was told he had to remove it. (Photo by Brian Wagner)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday afternoon, NSA leaker Edward Snowden made an appearance at Union Square Park. Although greeted with enthusiasm by some, he was nonetheless thrown out of the public space that has been home to countless political protests, by a government official.

Of course, it wasn’t the real Snowden, but a larger-than-life-size statue, which had been on display as part of the annual Art in Odd Places festival on 14th Street.

And as for the reason for its removal, it wasn’t anything political, according to the Parks Department, but the statue’s creator, Jim Dessicino, had apparently needed a permit to have the statue in the park, and he didn’t have one. The statue was scheduled to have been on display at the park from 9 to 5 p.m. but at around 1:45 p.m. the Parks Enforcement Patrol officer told Dessicino that Snowden had to go.

“It’s a funny way our parks are run; even our public spaces aren’t really public,” Dessicino later said. However, he also noted, in an interview with Town & Village, that the officer who told him to leave was very polite, allowing him ample time to cart the statue away to his nearby car. “He said, ‘Listen man, I love your sculpture, but you just can’t have it here. My boss will have my head,’” Dessicino said he was told.

A Parks Department spokesperson, Philip Abramson, later told T&V what Dessicino had been told, which is that the reason for the removal was the lack of a “special event permit.” “No permit was issued though so we asked for it to be removed,” Abramson said.

Edward Snowden statue at Union Square Park (Photo by Brian Wagner)

Edward Snowden statue at Union Square Park (Photo by Brian Wagner)

But prior to the statue leaving the park, it got plenty of attention from the press and passersby, especially international tourists. Those stopping to look and ask questions included a Swedish woman, a group from France, a group from Israel and a man from Tunisia. They also seemed to like the spot Dessicino picked to display the statue, he said, which was a few yards away from the Lincoln monument outside the playground.

The attention it was getting is why Dessicino believes he was singled out while other festival participants in the park got to stay.

At the time he was shutting down his installation, this reporter was in fact speaking to two other artists in the park, both of whom weren’t being confronted by police or Parks Enforcement.

However, one of the artists, Ienke Kastelein, had previously gotten kicked out of another space, the sidewalk in front of Stuyvesant Town. Kastelein’s installation was a bunch of traveling chairs that she was inviting people to sit on and, if they chose to, engage her in conversation.

“A lot of people were getting booted from their spots,” Dessicino said.

And apparently, that is nothing new. Ed Woodham, a teaching artist who’s the founder of Art in Odd Places, told Town & Village that the festival doesn’t apply for permits so artists getting shooed away from the park has happened many times before and artists are also often made to leave the sidewalks in front of various properties. Normally, the festival works around this by letting artists know which areas are typically problematic.

“This year it slipped through the cracks,” Woodham admitted.

Earlier, he’d spoken with Kastelein, who’s from the Netherlands, and who became concerned after being told by Stuyvesant Town’s Public Safety officers that she’d need to take her project elsewhere. At the time, some of the residents were sitting in the chairs.

“She was on the sidewalk in front of Stuyvesant Town and they told her to leave,” said Woodham. “They’re pretty protective.”

A spokesperson for CWCapital didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Ienke Kastelein in front of her installation, “Walking with Chairs” at Union Square Park, was previously told to move on from a sidewalk in front of Stuyvesant Town. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Ienke Kastelein, in front of her installation, “Walking with Chairs” at Union Square Park, was previously told to move on from a sidewalk in front of Stuyvesant Town. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

But, while Union Square Park has also been typically a place where artists are shooed away, Woodham said one artist had fought successfully for the right to display his piece, “Tourist in Chief” there. This was in 2011, and AiOP participant Leon Reid IV had initially been turned down by the Parks Department in his request to put a Yankees cap, camera and shopping bags on the Washington monument. So, “he got a lawyer and forced the issue,” Woodham said.

This year, he noted how one of the artists behind a project called “Complimentary,” Leah Harper, was also initially given the “private property” argument by a building’s management employees. The installation was a candy dispenser that gave out compliments on paper instead of candy. The employees had argued that the machine was attached to a beam that was part of the building. However, after speaking with a curator, they eventually changed their minds and let “Complimentary” stay.

“They said, ‘We’ve been looking to have art around here, anyway’,” said Woodham, who added that the owner even expressed interest in getting more art in the future.

Things also ended up working out for another artist, Kevin Townsend, who was told he couldn’t draw in chalk on the sidewalk. He ended up drawing in chalk on the windows of the 14th Street Y, after the Y gave him permission to do so, and the drawings remained on view throughout the weekend. Woodham added that the frequent resistance to the installations can sometimes work in artists’ favor. He called Snowden’s ouster from the park “wonderful” for the festival and the artist due to an article it got in the Daily News and other publications, including this one.

Additionally, by the next day, Snowden was back in action, appearing on 14th Street at 9th Avenue. After the festival ended, the statue left the city, with its next destination the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art. As for why Dessicino chose the National Security Agency whistleblower as his subject, the artist told T&V he had a few reasons.

“This person was important and I think will continue to be important,” said Dessicino. “Monuments are normally commissioned by governments, but (his) self-sacrificial action is not going to be recognized, and that’s why I stepped in.”

He added that he and Snowden are just a year apart in age. “I thought that he’s become representative of what millennials could do,” said Dessicino. “We often get termed as being self-serving and self-involved.”

As for Kastelein’s installation, during an interview, she said she’d gotten the idea for the traveling sit-down experiment from a residency she’d done at a psychiatric hospital. Patients there, she said, tended to be “disconnected” from their environment.

“In Dutch when you ask someone, ‘Where are you?’ you’re saying, ‘Where do you sit?’ They would say, ‘I’d rather be elsewhere,’ ‘so it’s ‘I’d rather sit elsewhere.’”

“Walking with Chairs,” she added, had been responded to positively by the public. Certain areas, like Union Square and Stuyvesant Town, were the most successful spots along 14th Street, in terms of getting people to actually sit down. “This is one place where people don’t hesitate to sit down,” she said of Union Square.

Meanwhile, in Stuyvesant Town, participants were interested in making conversation. “I connected to several people and had a very nice conversation about not communicating with neighbors, so this was a perfect way to communicate.”

Former precinct stationhouse becomes gallery for graffiti writers

A former police precinct stationhouse located at 327 East 22nd Street became home to an exhibit of graffiti and street art that opened last Thursday. Fifty artists participated in the show, which will be open again this weekend. (Photo by Jowy Romano.)

A former police precinct stationhouse located at 327 East 22nd Street became home to an exhibit of graffiti and street art that opened last Thursday. Fifty artists participated in the show, which will be open again this weekend. (Work by Pesu/Photo by Jowy Romano.)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A former police precinct is probably the last place one would expect to find rooms plastered in graffiti and street art, but one local organization took to the walls of the former 21st Precinct at 327 East 22nd Street and covered the space in art.

Art collective Outlaw Arts collaborated with a group of about 50 graffiti writers and street artists who have been tagging, spraying and wheatpasting inside the four floors of the building for the previous three weeks.

Curated by Rob Aloia of Outlaw Arts and street art publication VNA Mag, the show features work from Elle, Pixote, RAE, Smells, Ghost, RAMBO, Sheryo and The Yok, Lexi Bella, Esteban del Valle, Li Hill, Vexta, Never, Mr. Toll, Faust and others. The work debuted in a private opening last Thursday and was open to the public on both days last weekend.

According to New York-based blog Daytonian in Manhattan, the East 22nd Street building was the former home of the neighborhood’s police precinct in the late 1800s before the area was renumbered the 13th and moved to East 21st Street. It has, until recently, functioned as a foster care group residence for LGBTQ young people.

The building’s current developer, Suzuki Capital, is planning to demolish the building at the end of the month but in the meantime, allowed the artists to freely decorate the walls, like an indoor version of Five Points. Unfortunately, as is also the case with Five Points, the art will soon be gone when the building is torn down to make way for more luxury condos.

The exhibit will be open one final weekend, August 30 to 31, from 1 to 6 p.m. both days.

Click through for more photos from the exhibit. (All photos by Jowy Romano.)

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Local events this week: Mammograms, Bird walk, MulchFest

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Brad Hoylman at a mammogram event in December

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Brad Hoylman at a mammogram event in December

Free mammograms outside Stuyvesant Town

Following a successful event last month in which women 40 and older were offered free mammograms outside of Stuyvesant Town, the mammogram van is back today.

The event sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, is running now through 4 p.m. today on First Avenue between 16th and 17th Streets. Space is limited and appointments are mandatory. Call (800) 564-6868. All insurance plans accepted. Co-payments and deductibles waived. Free for women over 40.

Theater at the 14th Street Y presents ‘Kaddish’

“Kaddish,” a play based on Nobel Prize-winner Imre Kertész’s novel “Kaddish for an Unborn Child,” will run January 10-13 at the Theater at the 14th Street Y.
“Kaddish,” a one-man show featuring Jake Goodman and directed by Barbara Lanciers, comes to the Y following a critically-acclaimed run in Budapest this past June.
The play is an exploration of ritual and loss. It looks at a father’s unrelenting conflict over the absence of the child he never had during his ultimately doomed marriage. A Holocaust survivor, he had refused to bring a child into a world where horrors like the one he experienced can occur. The longing and regret that haunt this character give rise to one of the most eloquent meditations ever written on the Holocaust. The production is intimate, featuring a solo performance by Jake Goodman on a 10-foot square stage covered in dirt and light.
Performances (55 minutes in length) are Jan. 10 at 5 and 7 p.m., Jan. 11 at 11 a.m., 3 and 9 p.m., Jan. 12 at 1, 4 and 6 p.m. and Jan. 13 at 3 and 5 p.m. Tickets, $18, can be purchased at http://www.14streety.org/boxoffice or by calling 1-800-838-3006. The Theater at the 14th Street Y is located at 344 East 14th Street between First and Second Avenues.

Bobby Fulham memorial game set for January 11

On Saturday, January 11, 2014 the sixth annual Bobby Fulham Epiphany Alumni basketball game will be held at Xavier High School in the main gym, 30 West 16th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
Doors open for registration and warm-ups at 6 p.m. The ladies’ game is at 7 p.m. Men’s game to follow.
The late Bobby Fulham, a resident of Stuyvesant Town, was a good friend to many families in the neighborhood and was instrumental in getting the Epiphany Basketball Program to the level it is at today. Fulham lost his battle to cancer five years ago this past November. Every year many former players return to play in the game in his honor.
All of the proceeds of this year’s event will be donated to the CYO Basketball and the Epiphany School basketball program. Admission is a $20 donation, which includes a commemorative t-shirt, $5 for students and kids. Players are also asked to donate $20. All checks should be made out to CYO. For more information, contact Ray Curley (rtcurley99@aol.com), Tom Issing (tgi32@aol.com) or Mike Nealy (Michael.nealy@admlaw.com).

Bird walk on January 12

On Sunday, January 12 at 9 a.m., Anne Lazarus will lead a bird walk through Stuyvesant Cove Park and Stuyvesant Town. This free event will begin at the 20th street entrance to Stuyvesant Cove Park near the rocky outcropping, continue through the park and end in Stuyvesant Town. Possible bird sightings include several winter water birds as well as some interesting ducks. It is also hoped that the Varied Thrush, a rare bird recently spotted in Stuyvesant Town, will stay in the area until then. The walk will last approximately two hours and will take place even in the event of light rain. All are invited to participate and encouraged to bring cameras and binoculars. The Stuyvesant Cove Park Association would love to receive any photos of birds spotted on the walk. They can be sent to stuyvesantcove@yahoo.com.

Kips Bay neighborhood Alliance fundraiser

The Kips Bay Neighborhood Alliance is holding a fundraiser at Hill & Bay, 581 Second Avenue, on Monday, January 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. to raise awareness and membership. The event will give residents a chance to meet their neighbors, community leaders and local elected officials. The $20 suggestion donation for the event includes annual membership to the KBNA, one drink ticket and appetizers. There will also be a cash bar available. For more information, contact kbna.info@gmail.com.

MulchFest in Stuyvesant Town, Tompkins Sq. Park

Stuyvesant Town and Tompkins Square Park will be participating as chipping sites in MulchFest on Saturday, January 11 and Sunday, January 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
At this event, New Yorkers are encouraged to bring their discarded Christmas trees to be recycled into mulch. The site at Stuyvesant Town will be at the East 20th Street Loop and the site in Tompkins Square Park will be at East 7th Street between Avenues A and  B.  Free mulch will be available at each chipping site. Trees can also be brought to a drop-off site beginning on January 4 through January 12 to be recycled later. Special curbside collection for mulching and recycling of trees will be conducted by the Department of Sanitation from December 30 to January 15.

Coat drive at Oval Concierge through January 15

New York Cares is working with Community Partners in NYC to distribute coats to New Yorkers in need. A temporary bin has been set up at Oval Concierge to make it easy for PCV/ST residents to donate new or clean, gently used jackets and coats from Thursday, January 9 through Wednesday, January 15 at Oval Concierge (276 First Ave).

MORE EVENTS

For listings om local entertainments events: concerts, theater, comedy, burlesque, art exhibits, kids’ events, discussions and more, see T&V’s Around & About page.

For listings on local health and fitness events: support groups, screenings, classes and more, see T&V’s Health and Fitness page.

For listings on events held at local houses of worship: talks, special services, classes and volunteer efforts, see T&V’s Religion Page.