At first (or even second) glance, this colorful, towering sculpture comprised of jumbled letters and numbers may appear very random and indecipherable. Take a look at it from the correct angle, however, and it clearly spells out the frequency and call letters of radio station 95.1 WBEZ FM, in Chicago, which is an NPR station. Created by artist John Adduci, who is Chicago native, the sculpture has been around since 1996 and it changes location in and around Navy Pier at random intervals.
If you’ve seen the classic Disney film Fantasia, one of the Flatiron district’s new residents may look familiar to you. Hippo Ballerina, created by artist Bjørn Okholm Skaarup, is a bronze statue of a Hippo wearing a Tutu, standing over fifteen feet high, and weighing two and one-half tons. Installed on the east side of the Flatiron Building during the first week of September, the monumental artwork was formerly installed at Lincoln Center, but has been without a home since it was removed from that location in October, 2017. Kids especially seem to love it. If you’re looking for locations to snap unique souvenir photos from your trip to NYC, add this one to your list. The new installation of the statue was made possible through NYC DOT Art & Event Programming, Cavalier Galleries and the Flatiron Partnership.
Hippo Ballerina can be found on the Flatiron South Public Plaza, Between 22nd and 23rd Streets along Broadway, in Manhattan. The Statue is Scheduled to Be Up Through Thanksgiving, 2019.
Even though it’s been up since June 4th, it was just last week that I finally had the chance to check out the latest amazingly colorful mural on display at the famous Houston Bowery Wall, which is entitled Believe, and is the work of Andrea von Bujdoss, aka Queen Andrea. Queen Andrea is a New York City-based artist who specializes in fine art, murals, typography, and graphic design. Believe serves as a celebration of the city’s cultural diversity and “vibrancy of urban life.”
For Believe, in which Queen Andrea used paints in super bright colors, the eponymous typography messaging is a focal point, along with the words Love More on the lower right corner at street level. The artist uses these encouraging messages about staying positive and believing in what inspires you the most and makes you love more!
Queen Andrea’s focus on typography as an artist is an evolution of her history as a female graffiti artist. She grew up near the Houston Bowery Wall in Soho, where she began painting graffiti and studying graphic design as a young teen. The mural is part of an ongoing partnership between Goldman Global Arts and Citi.
The Houston Bowery Mural Wall is located at the intersections of East Houston Street and Bowery on the Northwest Corner.
The High Line always seems to have new public art installed along its mile-plus length of green space, and Five Conversations by Tanzanian-born artist Lubaina Himid, although it has been up since April, was new to me as I walked south along the path on my way to the Whitney Museum one sweltering Sunday afternoon.
For Five Conversations, Himid introduces five wooden doors reclaimed from traditional Georgian townhouses, painted with life-size portraits, cut into silhouettes, that stand freely as flat sculptures. The portraits depict everyday, stylish women who love talking to each other!
These works have a theatrical quality, referencing stage sets and the simplified histories that dominate our world. In her signature way, Himid brings the two-dimensional medium of painting into our three-dimensional world.
Part of the En Plein Air, a Group Exhibit that Examines and Expands the Tradition of Outdoor Painting, On View Through March 2020.
The first time I laid eyes on Simone Leigh’s monumental Brick House sculpture I was on the bus heading uptown on 10th Avenue.
I looked up and there she was, gazing out over the oncoming traffic from her perch on the 30th Street overpass, which I am told is now known as The Plinth. A month or so passed before I was able to pay her a proper visit and find out what she is all about.
Brick House is a 16-foot-tall bronze bust of a Black woman with a torso that combines the forms of a skirt and a clay house. The sculpture’s head is crowned with an afro framed by cornrow braids, each ending in a cowrie shell. Brick House is the inaugural commission for the High Line Plinth, a new landmark destination for major public artworks in New York City.
This is the first monumental sculpture in Leigh’s Anatomy of Architecture series, an ongoing body of work in which the artist combines architectural forms, from regions as varied as West Africa and the Southern United States, with the human body. The sculpture’s title (which is familiar to most as the title to popular 1977-era song by The Commodores) comes from the term for a strong Black woman who stands with the strength, endurance, and integrity of a house made of bricks.
Brick House references numerous architectural styles: Batammaliba architecture from Benin and Togo, the teleuk dwellings of the Mousgoum people of Cameroon and Chad, and the restaurant Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, Mississippi. The sculpture contrasts sharply against the landscape it inhabits, where glass-and-steel towers shoot up from among older industrial-era brick buildings, and where architectural and human scales are in constant negotiation. Resolutely facing down 10th Avenue, Leigh’s powerful Black female figure challenges us to consider the architecture around us, and how it reflects customs, values, priorities, and society as a whole.
Leigh works across sculpture, video, installation, and social practice, stitching together references from different historical periods and distant geographical locations. As a sculptor, Leigh works predominantly in ceramics—a medium that she mastered early in her career—continually pushing the boundaries of her chosen material by working in new methods and larger scales. In her intersectional practice, Leigh focuses on how the body, society, and architecture inform and reveal one another. She examines the construction of Black female subjectivity, both through specific historical figures such as Josephine Baker and Katherine Dunham, and more generally through overlapping historical lineages across Europe, Africa, the US, and the Caribbean.
The High Line Plinth presents a series of art installations that rotate every eighteen months. Designed as the focal point of the Spur, the newest section of the park that opened in spring 2019, the Plinth is the first space on the High Line dedicated solely to new commissions of contemporary art.
Simone Leigh’s Brick House will be on View on The High Line Plinth (at the Spur), 30th St. and 10th Ave., NYC, Through September 2020.
There is so much beauty in NYC, and you don’t have to look very far to find it. I was getting my steps in one Sunday afternoon when I noticed this beautiful, mirror-polished stainless steel abstract sculpture for first time. I took a handful of photos and then did some Googling to get the lowdown on this artwork, and this is what I found out. Artist David Fried’s Stemmer (part of an eponymous sculpture series ) is a public artwork that was permanently installed on the northeast corner of 34th Street and First Avenue in April of 2019, while the site (which is the courtyard of a high-rise apartment building) was still under construction, and before the plaza officially opened to the public in May.
Please enjoy this in-depth analysis on the Stemmer sculpture series, found on Fried’s Website:
The networked spheres and interdependent multifaceted structures found in each Stemmer sculpture suggest a multitude of processes and phenomena in the natural and built environment. While their forms clearly follow basic laws of economy and self-organization found in adaptive bubble structures, there is also an intended association to organic cell clusters.
With an emphasis on the most fundamental form of autonomy — the Membrane: both a barrier and communicator between the self and the environment — Fried suggests an abstract embodiment of the origin of life-forms – natural or engineered.
Their forms appear in an undifferentiated yet fertile state — like a Venus von Willendorf at conception —full of potential, ready for chance, influence and self-determination. Anti-fragile balancing acts operating far from equilibrium – individualities in an interdependent process of becoming.
In Fried’s mirror polished stainless steel versions, we see the environment and ourselves reflected in the faceted surfaces, absorbed 360° by the sculpture. Its appearance is integrated with — and largely defined by — its environment, hinting that one‘s sense of identity is a complex development of ‘nature and nurture.’
The sharp networked angles formed by intersecting spheres of varying size result in dynamic shapes that, in spite of their clean mathematical origin, appear biological, and seem to possess an abstract yet curiously personal character.
Fried coined the term ‘Stemmer’ as a personifying name for stem-cell creations. Currently, the stem-cell is the most promising yet controversial, programmable, self-reproducing building-block on a cellular level, which in the hands of the genetic engineer, has become the absolute malleable ‘bio-porcelain’ of choice at the turn of this century.
As in many of Fried’s other works, the artist presents us with minimalist symbolic imagery that suggests a fusion of mythological and scientific beliefs, while calling attention to the manipulative processes that are now deeply rooted in our cultures. By resurrecting and modernizing humankind’s oldest fertility icons—in an era whereby applied technologies are trumping the oldest form of reproduction and evolution—with fertility icons of a synthetic nature, Fried confronts us with our desire and ability to alter nature’s course, and perhaps the future of our own evolutionary process.
Cuban American Geometrical Abstract painter Carmen Herrera (b. 1915, Havana) waited a very long time to get her hard-earned props from the art world. The artist’s first career retrospective, 2016– 2017 Lines Of Sight at New York City’s Whitney Museum finally provided a showcase for her minimalist, color field paintings, alongside a selection of her geometric, monochromatic sculptures — which she simply calls Estructuras (Structures). While it’s disappointing to realize that, at 104 years of age, Carmen Herrera isn’t quite a household name, the NYC-based Public Art Fund is doing its part to expose her works to a wider audience by sponsoring Estructuras Monumentales, Herrera’s first major exhibition of outdoor sculptures, which are currently on view in City Hall Park. This park is a short walk from my office, to so I walked over on my lunch hour to check it out.
Herrera’s Estructuras series of sculptures, informed by her architectural training, date back to the 1960s with a group of diagrammatic sketches. She envisioned large-scale monochromatic sculptures that would extend the experience of her luminous paintings into three dimensions. Until recently, these historic proposals have remained unrealized. With Estructuras Monumentales, this remarkable artist is now able to share her powerful structures with public audiences for the first time. Here are the five structures located in City Hall Park.
Herrera still paints and creates every day, but Angul Rojo (2017) is the first Estructura that she has designed in more than three decades. Its red chevron composition conveys movement and rhythm with a bold dynamism reminiscent of many of her most iconic paintings.
Herrera originally conceived Pavanne, (1967/2017) as a monument to her younger brother, Mariano, who was then dying of cancer. The three tightly fit, interlocking elements of this solemn work encourage quiet contemplation, while the title references the musical term for a slow processional dance with funereal overtones.
Amarillo Tres, 1971/2018. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Herrera began to work with a carpenter to translate her drawings into wooden sculptural Estructuras. That resulted in the important smaller Azul ‘Tres’ (1971), on which this monumental Estructura is based. Herrera was forced to temporarily halt this endeavor when the carpenter she worked with passed away and the grant stipend that had supported the work began to dwindle.
Estructura Verde (1966/2018) most clearly expresses the evolution from Herrera’s paintings to her Estructuras. Her breakthrough Blanco y Verde (1966–67) series of paintings on canvas created long, acute wedges of dark paint among white expanses. This sculpture translates and inverts that arrangement, with two bold green interlocked L-shaped forms, which encompass slivers of negative space, incorporating the sculpture’s surroundings into its dynamic composition.
Untitled Estructura (Red), (1962/2018). Carmen Herrera’s Estructuras can be appreciated for their formal poetry, yet they can also be seen in the context of her life. In October of 1962, the confrontation between the United States and Cuba escalated to the Cuban Missile Crisis, during which Herrera and her husband Jesse Lowenthal were deeply involved in helping friends, family, and refugees escape the conflict. The overhanging cantilevered arrangement of this Estructura might abstractly allude to the tensions between Herrera’s adopted and native countries at the moment she conceived this work.
Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales, Curated by Public Art Fund Curator Daniel S. Palmer, Will Be On View in City Hall Park (Located in Lower Manhattan) Through November 8th, 2019.