Tag Archive | Public Art

Queen Andrea’s Believe Mural On The Houston Bowery Wall

Queen Andrea Believe Mural
All Photos By Gail

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.”

Queen Andrea Believe Mural

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 Believe Mural

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.

Queen Andrea Believe Mural

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Five Conversations By Lubaina Himid On The High Line

Five Conversations
All Photos By Gail

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.

Five Conversations

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!

Five Conversations Detail

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.

Five Conversations Detail

Part of the En Plein Air, a Group Exhibit that Examines and Expands the Tradition of Outdoor Painting, On View Through March 2020.

 

Simone Leigh’s Brick House On The High Line

Brick House By Simone Leigh
All Photos By Gail

The first time I laid eyes on Simone Leigh’s monumental Brick House sculpture I was on the bus heading uptown on 10th Avenue.

Simone Leigh Brick House from Distance

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 Taken From Street Level

Brick House By Simone Leigh

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.

Brick House By Simone Leigh
View of Brick House Looking East to 30th Street

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.

View of 10th Ave Looking South
View From The Plinth Looking South Down 10th Ave

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.

Brick House By Simone Leigh

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.

Simoe Leigh Brick House from Distance

David Fried’s Stemmer Gets a Permanent Home on East 34th Street

David Fried Stemmer
All Photos By Gail

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.

David Fried Stemmer

David Fried Stemmer
David Fried’s Stemmer, Installation View

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.

David Fried Stemmer

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.

David Fried Stemmer

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.

David Fried Stemmer

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.

David Fried Stemmer

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.

David Fried Stemmer

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.

David Fried Stemmer

Carmen Herrera Estructuras Monumentales in City Hall Park

Angula Rojo
All Photos By Gail

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, 20162017 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.

Angula Rojo

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.

Angula Rojo

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.

Pavanne

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.

Pavanne

Amarilla Tres

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.

Amarilla Tres

Estructura Verde

Estructura Verde (1966/2018) most clearly expresses the evolution from Herrera’s paintings to her Estructuras. Her breakthrough Blanco y Verde (196667) 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.

Estructura Verde

Estructura Verde

Untitled Estructura (Red)

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.

Untitled Estructura (Red)

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.

Angula Rojo

Cats Mural: Broken English Taco Pub, Chicago

Broken English Taco Pub Mural
Photos By Gail

“Paying Attention All the Time is an Interesting Way to Go Through the Day.” That is my favorite quote from photographer Stephen Shore, and while it applies to most days of my life, it was especially true during the week I spent vacationing in Chicago. Man, excluding decent weather, that city has just about everything, including lots of fun public art. This site-specific mural of cartoonish fat cats is painted on the exterior of Broken English Taco Pub, which according to its website serves “A unique take on Mexican street style tacos.”  Sound yummy!

Broken English Taco Pub Mural Detail

We were running around so much that we didn’t have an opportunity to eat there (next time!) and I only got one good snap of the entire mural, but here is a cropped view of the cats, which look like ‘cat balloons,’ almost. The Luchador Mask-wearing Cat below is on the back side of the building on Wells Street as you walk toward the entrance.

Broken English Taco Pub Mural Detail

There are three Broken English Taco Pub locations in Chicago, but this one is located at 1440 N. Wells (at the corner Schiller Street) in the Old Town neighborhood.

The Spitting Fountains of Chicago

Millennium Park,
All Photos By Gail

Add this to the long list of Very Cool Things I saw on my recent Chicago vacation: Spitting Fountains. Well, the proper name for this distinctive piece of public art is Crown Fountain, located in Millennium Park, but if you were a tourist and you asked a Chicago local to point you in the direction of “The Spitting Fountains,” I bet they would know what you meant.

Opened in July 2004, Crown Fountain is an interactive work of public art and video sculpture designed by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa and executed by Krueck and Sexton Architects.  The fountain is composed of a black granite reflecting pool placed between a pair of glass brick towers.

Crown Fountain Smiling 2

The towers are 50 feet tall and use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to display digital videos on their inward faces. While some of the videos displayed are of scenery, most attention has focused on its video clips of the faces of local residents. Here’s where the spitting part comes in: a powerful stream of water intermittently cascades down the two towers, spouting through a nozzle on each tower’s front face. Not coincidentally, the nozzle will line up with the mouth of whatever face is being displayed. Clever.

Crown Fountain Spitting

Here’s how you can best plan your photos to get a shot of the spitting. Each face appears on the sculpture for a total of 5 minutes using various parts of individual 80-second videos.  A 40-second section is played at one-third speed forward and backward, running for a total of 4 minutes.  Then, there is a subsequent segment, where the mouth is puckering, that is stretched to 15 seconds. This is followed by a section, in which the water appears to spout from the open mouth, that is stretched to last for 30 seconds.

Crown Fountain Smiling

Finally, there is a smile after the completion of the water spouting from the mouth, that is slowed to extend for 15 seconds. The water operates only from May to October.

Crown Fountain 2

Crown Fountain highlights Plensa’s themes of dualism, light, and water, extending the use of video technology from his prior works. Its use of water is unique among Chicago’s many fountains, in that it promotes physical interaction between with the public, and children especially appear to enjoy frolicing in the fountain’s water.

Crown Fountain Spitting

In fact, if you are on the street passing by and can’t even see the fountain, you can tell when it is spitting because you can hear the loud and delighted squealing of children.

Crown Fountain Smiling 3

Crown Fountain is adjacent to another famous Chicago landmark, Anish Kapoor’s Cloudgate (aka The Bean), so you can see them both next time you visit this beautiful city!