There’s More to Public Art than Sculptures and Statues
In By the City / For the City many residents spoke up for the need to beautify New York through color, light, and other non-traditional (read: not-a-sculpture-in-a-plaza) public art. One resident wants people to find new ways to add beautiful color to their neighborhoods.Leni in the West Village hopes that strategically located vacant lots could be filled with light. Laura simply wishes that art could be freely exhibited, so that the city could be “full of life and expressive of the people using such spaces.” Together, these ideas provoke the consideration of new and inventive ways of incorporating art into the cityscape.
The Storefront for Art and Architecture’s latest exhibit, Painting Urbanism, showcases the favela paintings with which the artistic duo Haas&Hahn has blanketed slums of Rio de Janeiro over the last several years, transforming dense blight into beauty. The exhibit hopes to inspire a similar color-intervention in New York City. Creative lighting is growing in popularity as an effective art form in both large and small-scale installations. Nuit Blanche New York is having an October showcase called Bring to Light, and longer lasting installations have popped up in parks around the city. Physically unobtrusive as well as being relatively cheap to install and maintain, light is an ideal artistic medium for the city. Art in Odd Places functions on an even more ad-hoc scale, promoting small installations, performances, and a variety of un-categorizable artwork in places where they are perhaps most unlikely to exist. Art can adapt to any environment, complementing or contrasting spaces which otherwise would not have caught the attention of passersby.
Some of the most prominent examples are publicly funded. The NYC DOT recently held a design competition for a temporary re-think of Times Square while a more permanent re-design for the pedestrian plaza there is being developed by IfUD Fellow Craig Dykers’ firm, Snøhetta. The winning design, “Cool Water, Hot Island” by artist Molly Dilworth, involved painting the street with a splashy sequence of blues. This project not only adds beauty and color in an unexpected place but has a utilitarian function too: separating pedestrian from transportation space. Another initiative spearheaded by the city is Arts for Transit, an MTA program that funds projects that create links to neighborhoods with art that echoes the architectural history and design context of the individual stations. The art makes use of non-traditional spaces like subway station walls, gates, windscreens, as well as ad space in the trains and buses themselves, resulting in projects like the bronze statues that inhabit the 14th Street ACE station.
Public Art runs the gamut of scale, and the opportunities for implementation are endless. One resident wants to see the passage along 138th Street under the Grand Concourse in the Bronx made more open, inviting, and colorful. Cat in Bushwick wishes the Unisphere base was painted with Murals by local artists so it wasn’t just a massive aqua blue circle. Finding clever places to add art to the cityscape is both a creative and practical challenge, but the result can be the creation of a meaningful place where there wasn’t one before.
Want to take on the challenge of adding art to New York City? Click here to register for the By the City / For the City design competition today! Entries are due by midnight (EST) on Sunday, July 31st, 2011. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!