Zuccotti Park in the Financial District is perhaps most famous for being ground zero for the Occupy Wall Street movement, but it’s also home to several pieces of monumental public art. For example, behold this bright red, 70-foot-high painted steel installation by sculptor Mark di Suvero, entitled Joie de Vivre (Joy of Life), which went up at the corner of Broadway and Cedar Street in June 2006. The sculpture is comprised of “open-ended tetrahedrons” as described by di Suvero, and was formerly located at the Holland Tunnel rotary.
While running errands on my lunch hour, I stumbled upon a set of ten larger-than-lifesize bronze statues of various women, who are easily recognizable as celebrities or otherwise influential public figures, which turned out to be part of Statues For Equality, a public art initiative by husband and wife artist team Gillie and Marc. Statues For Equality is a global mission to balance gender representation in public statues and honor women’s contribution to society. While the installation includes world-famous women such as Oprah Winfrey, Nicole Kidman, Jane Goodall, and Cate Blanchett, the figure that stood out for me the most was one of Pink, because, well, she’s a rock star! The plaque that can be seen to the right of each statue explains the many reasons for each woman’s inclusion in the project, and Pink’s has the following inscription:
“Twenty-first-century pop idol Pink is a three-time Grammy award winning singer and songwriter who has released seven studio albums, has 15 top ten singles, sold over 50 million albums worldwide, and sold out tours all over the world, making her one of the most widely respected and popular musicians across the globe.
As outstanding as she is influential, Pink received mass acclaim for her raw, honest, and subversive approach to pop music combined with her distinctive and commanding vocal performance that has inspired countless others to pick up a microphone and be themselves.
Outside of her highly decorated music career, Pink is a UNICEF Ambassador, an outspoken animal activist, LGBTQ advocate, and campaigner for women’s rights with a focus on body positivity and female representation.
Standing tall in an Aster, a flower loved for its hardness and variety of blooming colors, Pink chose the Aster flower as a symbol of her diverse audience from around the world as well as her transformative career.
Statues For Equality Can Currently Be Seen at 32 Old Slip in The Financial District, NYC, But It is Expected to Move On To Other Cities, So See These Fine Ladies While You Can!
Just across Water Street from the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a tiny circular plaza, lined with shops and cafes, known as Coentis Slip. In the center of the plaza you will find the similarly-named Coenties Ship by renowned sculptor Bryan Hunt. The 20 foot tall structure that stands upon vertically on a circular dome of cast glass is impossible to ignore. With the Spaceship-like form of this sculpture, Hunt has stated that he intended to invoke buoyancy and nautical nuance poised for a future. The sculpture was erected in October of 2006.
The sculpture was originally commissioned by the Art Commission of NYC as part of the Percent for Arts program. In order to resolve certain structural logistics issues, Hunt partnered with the firm of Jaroff Design, who specilalize in custom architectural metal and glass design and fabrication services to the architecture, interior design construction and art communities. Hunt wanted to balance his curving metal sculpture with a bell-shaped pedestal made out of custom cast glass, but he was unsure whether that could be done. Drawing on their expertise in combining integrated lighting and custom glass fabrication, Jaroff Design developed, and then fabricated the solution – casting the bell in numerous individual pieces installed around a supportive metal core.
The pedestal appears to magically support the massive sculpture and its interior lighting system (not seen here, due the sculpture being photographed during daylight hours), devised by lighting designer Dale Knoth, illuminates the surface with a glowing green tone. Additional light comes from below the ground, where a mirrored finishing on the base of the inlaid decorative backpainted glass pavers reflects the light from the pedestal upward. Together, the cast glass and architectural lighting components provide the perfect accentuation for the upward swirl of the cast stainless steel.
Coenties Ship was awarded the New York City Design Excellence Award in 2006.
I was on my way to snag a bargain at TJ Maxx when I spotted this rad graffiti truck parked on Pine Street in the Financial District. The abstract design looks like street art Picasso to me! I Googled the tag, “Cernesto” (visible at the top left corner of the truck) and discovered that the artist none other than Cern, a native of New York City currently based in Brooklyn.
Cern got his start writing graffiti in the early nineties. Continuing to develope as a visual artist and musician, Cern creates murals and exhibits works throughout South America, Europe and South Africa. Cern’s work has also been featured at the San Diego Museum of Art, Museu Brasileiro De Escultura in Sao Paulo, and MOCA, in Los Angeles.
Follow Cern on Instagram @cernesto!
I’ve posted many photos and stories behind the fantastic public art that can be found in the Financial District, and here’s another piece I just discovered thanks to a tip on Instagram (thanks @fidi_living). Public spaces built by the Kaufman Organization are known for their quirky objects and splashes of color, and the plaza and arcade space at 200 Water Street, adjacent to Fulton Street to the northeast, is no exception.
Completed in 1972, the Fulton Plaza, as it is officially known, maintains much of the original 1970s whimsy of the space, which has recently undergone some renovations since the building it flanks was converted by a new owner from offices to residential dormitory use. Here you will find a Giant Fishing Lure (which, research reveals, once hung above a pool of water). The Lure’s cascading hooks dangle ominously, ready to ensnare the next victim!
Entitled Very Large Fish Lure, the sculpture is credited to the Rebel Fishing Lure Co., with concept design by the late graphic designer Rudolph de Harak, a favorite of Kaufman’s, whose work was used at other company buildings.
You can see that the plaza’s water theme continues in this fun mural, seen in the second photo of this post, which adorns a wall just north of the sculpture.
Look out for those hooks!
The Financial District in Lower Manhattan is a playground for monumental public art installations, including Isamu Noguchi’s Red Cube, which was installed on the plaza at 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets in 1968.
The diagonal lines of red painted steel stand in contrast to the stark horizontal and vertical lines of the adjacent front of the HSBC Building (formerly the Marine Midland Bank) by architect Gordon Bunshaft. Despite its title, the sculpture is not actually a cube, but instead seems as though it has been stretched along its vertical axis.
Aside from it’s striking color, Red Cube also stands out from the surrounding architecture in that all of its lines are diagonals, whereas the buildings are made up of horizontal and vertical lines. Additionally, the sculpture is balanced somewhat precariously on one corner, while the buildings, by contrast, and solidly placed.
Through the center of the cube there is a cylindrical hole, revealing an inner surface of gray with evenly-spaced lines moving from one opening of the hole to the other. Looking through this hole, the viewer’s gaze is directed skyward, towards the building behind, tying the sculpture and the architecture together.
Red Cube is Located at 140 Broadway (at Liberty Street) New York, N.Y.10005. By Subway, Take the 4 or 5 to Wall Street Station.
Group of Four Trees (1969-72 ) by artist Jean Dubuffet is a black and white sculpture standing just in front of the black and white Chase Manhattan Bank building. The similarities between the sculpture and building, however, stop there.
The building’s straight lines and evenly-spaced rows of windows stand in contrast to the irregular surfaces of Group of Four Trees. The forms of the trees are made up of a series of varying planes, all white, and connected together by thick black outlines. The trees’ canopies lean in different directions, and the heights of the four trees are all different, making the viewer’s eye move all around the sculpture, following the many lines that are present.
The trees manage to look both big and small at the same time. Although almost dwarfed by the surrounding buildings, Group of Four Trees in turn stands high above the people who walk by. Because of the unusual shapes of the trees, and the lack of natural color, the trees seem not quite organic. They do, however, add dynamic movement to the plaza.
In 1969, David Rockefeller, then chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, asked Jean Dubuffet to design models for a possible sculpture to be placed in front of the bank’s new building. Already, the building’s plaza included Isamu Noguchi’s Sunken Garden, completed in 1964, and the bank’s leaders wanted to add another sculpture as well.
Dubuffet submitted a number of models, of which Group of Four Trees was chosen. He then enlarged the piece for placement in the plaza. The sculpture is made of synthetic plastic over an aluminum frame, with a steel armature holding the whole piece together.
Group of Four Trees is located in the Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza, off Pine Street, between Nassau and William Streets, in NYC’s Financial District.
Near the Water Street side of the plaza at 88 Pine Street is a two-piece abstract sculpture called East West Gate, by Taiwanese artist Yu Yu Yang (1926 – 1997), consisting of a large shiny stainless steel disk standing upright next to a 16-foot-tall steel rectangle with a circular hole in it, suggesting that the disk has been cut from the rectangle.
This circle in the square creates an intriguing visual and philosophical perspective for the viewer who repeatedly regresses in the reflection of the disk.
Yang’s works show a rich variety of forms and subjects with their essences based on Chinese cultures through expressions that incorporate both eastern and western aesthetics. A renowned sculptor, environmental designer and architect, Yang was a versatile and prolific artist who left behind a great legacy of art.
For years I’ve walked by this sculpture installation at the corner of Water Street and Old Slip, and assumed it was one of John Chamberlain’s crushed car works. But recently I was compelled to snap a few photographs and do a bit of Googling. What I found out is that back in 1970, artist William Tarr made this sculpture from aluminum panels meant for the facade of 77 Water Street (the building on whose plaza it sits) that were rejected due to their imperfections. Thus, the sculpture’s name, Rejected Skin.
Sculptor Victor Scallo created this sculpture that consists of four rectangular stainless steel blocks, which are meant to represent nearby buildings in the Financial District.
There isn’t any water in the fountain at the moment, but when there is, there are five nozzles (visible in the photos above) located near the surface of the pool that spray water upwards into the air. Cityscape Fountains (1969) stands outside the plaza on 77 Water Street (adjacent to Front Street and Gouverneur Lane).