Take a look at this picture. You see a 3D optical illusion on the right (it goes to a point in the middle when you walk down it, but impossible to represent here), a perspex anchor on the left (as you do) and the Manhattan skyline in the background. Where was I? Well, I was at the Socrates Sculpture Park, home of bonkers outside art in Queens. It was a gorgeous day yesterday and we were there to check out this year’s emerging artists installations. As well as these two, there was a wooden dragon thing that J loved walking along, must have been 30 feet long; a pile of wood painted white which was more obstacle course for small children and dogs than art; and a giant spider with an NYPD spy station on top of it – hard to imagine, I know. All a bit crazy, but that just seems to be normal here.
Scarecrow is the name of the new installation in the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens. It’s by a Lithuanian artist called Zilvinas Kampinas and I’m quite obsessed by it as I can see it every day from our apartment. I watched them install it and last week we visited it when it opened to the public on 11 May.
More bonkers art, I’m afraid. It’s two S-shaped curved lines of high metal poles stuck in the soil. On top of each pole is a metal ribbon which is attached to its opposite number. Bit like a washing line. But lots of them. And they move. The vibrate in the wind and make eerie sounds, like a load of pigeons has descended. They catch the sunlight beautifully and when the morning sun catches them in the morning, it’s a lovely sight to start the day.
I like it so much, I’ll be back. And they have a great bubble ice tea place on the way from the subway station, so even more reason to go.
See what you think:
Or at least their doors. Rows and rows of them in a yard in Queens. Given how battered some of the taxis look, it’s no surprise the doors need replacing so much.
After the excitement of a month long Banksy residency, New York now has to settle for its own graffiti artists and go over to Long Island City in Queens to get its fix. There’s an empty warehouse opposite MOMA PS1, the Long Island City outpost of the Museum of Modern Art, and it’s covered in graffiti. At first glance you may think it’s all a bit of a mess and says something about how much people care about this area, but actually it’s all very organised and the graffiti artists have been using this building as a canvas for decades. The 5pointz website tells us:
“5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc. is an outdoor art exhibit space in Long Island City, New York, considered to be the world’s premiere “graffiti Mecca,” where aerosol artists from around the globe paint colorful pieces on the walls of a 200,000-square-foot factory building.”
Constantly under the threat of demolition, 5pointz continues to argue (even in the courts with some help from Banksy himself) that this is art, this is somewhere that should be protected. Unfortunately the gentrification of Long Island City is creeping and with the enormous Citi building nearby and the renovated Court Square subway station making this a surprisingly accessible stop on the 7 line, the price of real estate is growing. Putting up an apartment building to replace the graffiti strewn building is going to make someone a lot of cash and there’ll come a point soon when the fight will be over.
So here are some of my pictures so that you can see what the fuss is all about. Make the most of them, they may be some of the last to adorn the building.
That’s quite hard to spell, but I like the way it sounds. Socrates to be precise. There is a sculpture park in Queens named after him and it’s quite a revelation. It’s right on the East River with fantastic views of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Located on reclaimed wasteland that was dedicated to an outside art space back in the mid 1980s and is now looked after the the City of New York Parks and Recreation Department. It hosts a range of weird and wonderful art and they are big. Venturing on the subway and the many steps I may have complained about before, it was the perfect way to spend an unseasonably warm October day.
The current exhibition, which opened on 8 September, is ‘The Emerging Artist Fellowship Exhibition’, so expect some pretty odd stuff. I don’t think my ramblings will do it justice, so here’s a selection of my photographs of the current work on display.
Yes, the second one is made up of plastic bags. Don’t ask what’s going on with the third picture. And be sure to check out the fabulous view of Manhattan in the background of the last picture. See what you think.
Brutus Jones by Justin Randolph Thompson
The Lotus Land by Myung Gyun You
Bear Eats Man by Thordis Adalsteinsdottir
Large Horn by Edouard Steinhauer
Folly by Toshihiro Oki, Jen Wood and Jared Diganci
One of us may have been sleeping, so I’ll try telling you again tonight by David McQueen
There are five boroughs in New York, with Manhattan being the most well known. Staten Island suffered horribly in the Hurricane and is often forgotten as the island off the bottom of Manhattan. The Bronx is at the other end of Manhattan and whilst I have discovered there is a zoo and a botanical garden there (to be visited on warmer days) it still makes me think of scary New York of the 70s. Ed Koch, Mayor between 1978 and 1990 died recently and was credited with transformation of the Bronx and other run down parts of New York. This leaves Queens and Brooklyn. The latter is of course well known because the Beckhams called their eldest son after the borough – it’s certainly up and coming now, with Park Slope known as the nappy valley of New York. I visited the Transit Museum today and got my first glance at Brooklyn. I only saw the civic parts around city hall and the MTA (transport authority) but it was a world apart from Manhattan. Lower built and more interesting to look at than the high rises of the Upper East Side. And as for Queens, well, I wouldn’t go there again unless there was a good reason. We went to Astoria, which is across the East River from the Upper East Side of Manhattan and it is pretty unloved and run down. The Museum of the Moving Image has been there for 20 years but it hasn’t led to any regeneration in the neighbourhood a la Tate Modern in London. The museum is great, hosting a computer games through the ages exhibit (or excuse for middle aged men to play with computer games dating back to their teens) and it did make me laugh to see the Wizard of Oz as part of the permanent exhibition, when the first thoughts I had when we emerged from the subway were “I don’t think we’re in Kansas any more, Toto”.