Cherry Tree Blossoms in Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery (All Photos By Gail)
Today, April 22nd, is Earth Day, so I wanted to celebrate something from the earth that adds value to my life each time I leave my house. For me right now, that means spring flowers. We didn’t get to fully enjoy the unique beauty of spring in 2020, due to the pandemic lockdown, but now many parks and botanical gardens are reopened and in full bloom. On the weekends especially, I try to spend as much time outside as possible, and flowers are my favorite subject to photograph. Please enjoy this carefully-curated selection of ten beautiful flowers taken during my recent adventures in and around the NYC area.
As soon as weather turns from winter to spring, you are going to see a full spectrum of jewel-hued tulips pop up all over NYC. These guys were hanging out in a public planter in the Flatiron District.
On the Friday before Joe Biden’s electoral victory was officially announced, I had a late afternoon appointment near Madison Square Park. It was already twilight when I exited onto Fifth Avenue and 25th Street and I decided to walk home to take advantage of an unseasonably-warm evening and what I think of as the romantic atmosphere imparted by the newly-restored standard time. Darkness at night: what a concept. As I crossed Broadway I noticed a new piece of public art in the park which resembles the Statue of Liberty’s torch, entitled Light of Freedom. New York native Abigail Deville is the artist. I snapped a few photos and then continued on my way.
This past Saturday, I had the chance to check out Light of Freedom in the daylight, where it’s easier to see that the torch’s flame is comprised of disembodied mannequin arms; something which I find very appealing.
Let’s zoom-in for a closer look.
Here’s is an excerpt from Madison Square Park Conservancy’s statement on the piece:
Light of Freedom carries many cogent symbols. DeVille has filled a torch — referring to the Statue of Liberty’s hand holding a torch, which was on view in Madison Square Park from 1876 to 1882 — with a timeworn bell, a herald of freedom, and with the arms of mannequins, beseeching viewers. The scaffold, which prevents access physically and metaphorically, recalls a work site, an insistent image on the urban landscape. But the scaffold is golden, summoning the glory of labor and the luminosity in the struggle that can lead to change.Formative to Light of Freedom are the words of the abolitionist, author, and statesman Frederick Douglass, who proclaimed in an 1857 speech delivered in Canandaigua, New York: “If there is no struggle there is no progress.” The torch refers to the light of democracy and its foundation in ancient systems of government by citizens.
DeVille has described working on this piece: “In my research, I have found that the first Blacks to be brought to New York City were eleven Angolans in 1626. That makes people of African descent the second-oldest group of settlers in New Amsterdam, after the Dutch. Unfortunately, history has erased the contributions and victories of this group. I want to make something that could honor their lives and question what it means to be a New Yorker, past, present, and future.”
Light of Freedom will be on Exhibit in Madison Square Park Through January 31st, 2021, so see it while you can!
Wednesday night was a beautiful night in the city; so warm and clear. It was not surprising to see so many people out in Madison Square Park, many of whom were not even in line for Shake Shack. Geoffrey and I had some time to kill before heading to an event in the neighborhood, so we ventured into the park to find the new resident public art project, which they have in the park every summer. Barely into the park’s east side at 24th Street we saw what looked like a giant elephant sculpture with big gold nose ring, just ahead to the west. “There it is,” we said in unison.
Big Bling is a public sculpture by American artist Martin Puryear (b. 1941). This forty-foot-tall work – the largest temporary piece he has created – is built of wood, the artist’s signature material, and a chain link fence. A shackle covered in gold leaf is anchored near the top of the structure.
Puryear has described Big Bling as “an event”; it is a short-term phenomenon. Through abstract means, he has crafted an on-going dialogue with history, art history, identity, and politics. Here, “Bling” – a slang term for flashy jewelry and accessories – is rooted in the urban youth, hip-hop and rap culture of the ‘90s. It is exceptional for Puryear to summon contemporary vernacular in titling his work. The name of the artwork and its placement in the heart of Manhattan demonstrates his recognition that Big Bling is a reflection of the character and the inhabitants of dense urban environments.
Big Bling Detail: It Reminds Me of an Ear
Big Bling is part animal form, part abstract sculpture, and part intellectual meditation.
Do Not Climb Big Bling
See Big Bling in Madison Square Park Through January of 2017!
Mad. Sq. Art, the free, contemporary art program of Madison Square Park Conservancy, is currently hosting Fata Morgana an impressive, immersive installation by New York-based artist Teresita Fernández. This is the Conservancy’s largest and most ambitious outdoor sculpture to date.
The outdoor sculpture, which consists of 500 running feet of golden, mirror-polished discs that create canopies above the pathways around the Park’s central Oval Lawn, will be on view in Madison Square Park though through Winter 2015-16.
In nature, a Fata Morgana the name for a horizontal mirage that forms across the horizon line. Alluding to this phenomenon, Fernández’s project introduces a shimmering horizontal element to the Park that will engage visitors in a dynamic experience. The installation is a mirror-polished, golden metal sculpture that hovers above the Park’s winding walkways to define a luminous experiential passage for Park visitors.
The metal forms, perforated with intricate patterns reminiscent of foliage, create abstract flickering effects as sunlight filters through the canopy, casting a golden glow across the expanse of the work, paths, and passersby. The project is Mad. Sq. Art’s first to fully utilize the upper register of a visitor’s space. It’s really quite beautiful.
Discovering cool public art in NYC is part of what makes being an art lover in this city so rewarding. Even though they have been up since February 19th, I just read about Paula Hayes’ Gazing Globes installation in Madison Square Park last week, and with less than a month left to check it out, I felt encouraged by the promise of less frigid weather to head over there this past weekend.
The work features eighteen transparent polycarbonate spheres that hold the remnants of contemporary culture, including up-cycled radio parts, industrial materials, acrylic wands, and other pieces of vintage technology sprinkled with fairy dust made of pulverized CDs. In this way, Hayes is using new materials and adding fresh content to her objects while retaining some of the form of her well-known plant terrariums.
The heights of the pedestals varies, which adds a keen visual dynamic as well. It is like walking into a magical fairy land!
Each see-through globe lit from within features a mixture of analog radio parts, castoff electronic transistor parts, glass vacuum tubes, micro glass beads, shredded rubber tires, and recycled plastic flotsam. To these mixed remnants of technology and culture the artist added crystals and minerals.
A shimmering fairy dust was made from pulverized CDs and is layered within each sculpture’s interior. Hayes, who typically works with varieties of plant materials, determined that everyday castoffs are indicative of a society’s behavior and value system and symptomatic of the current landscape.
The artist states, “I used vintage parts because technology moves at such a fast pace. These play a role in the current landscape and how information is transmitted from one part of the globe to the next. I made an illuminated landscape evocative of the designed landscape of Madison Square Park. Both are born of human imagination and technology.”
Since the Globes are illuminated, the optimal viewing time is at dusk or, ideally, in the dark. We arrived maybe 20 minutes before full sunset, but due to being underdressed for a sudden temperature drop, we were just too cold to remain outside any longer.
Gazing Globes by Paula Hayes’s will be on view through April 19th, 2015 at the West Gravel area of Madison Square Park, Located on the North East Lot at Intersection of 23rd Street and Broadway, New York City.