We recently told you about the season's new museum exhibits. However, you can check out amazing art in NYC's public plazas and parks, too. Spring means a whole new crop of incredible public art displays and this season's roundup is particularly impressive.
Madison Square Park is currently installing a canopy of gold-hued mirrors in its treeline; meanwhile, Brooklyn Bridge Park is set to host 18 pieces of interactive art, and an enormous plant-filled pyramid will soon sprout up along the East River in Socrates Sculpture Park. Bonus: all of these exhibits are in public places so they can be enjoyed for FREE. Read on for nine must-see public art installations debuting in New York City this spring.
Soft Spin – Battery Park City
Brookfield Place New York, Winter Garden, 230 Vesey Street
On view through Friday, April 24
Head inside to see Soft Spin, an exhibit suspended above the Winter Garden atrium in Brookfield Place. These six large, unexpected colorful swirls of fabric aren't just delightful to look at—they are also lovely to listen to, as prerecorded voices sing from each one.
Avian Avatars – Midtown West
Garment District Plazas, Broadway between 36th and 41st streets
On view through Thursday, April 30
Five larger-than-life mythical birds grace the plazas on Broadway in the Garment District. These sculptures, standing 18-26 feet tall, are created from maple saplings, recycled materials and wire ties. Each has a distinct voice and story that looks to caution on human impact on nature. The birds include a Victoria Crowned Pigeon, crow, owl, Red Tail Hawk and a falcon. You can download a map to see exactly where to find each one, but move quickly as these flyers will be taken down at the end of the month.
Sam Falls: Light Over Time – Downtown Brooklyn
Metrotech Commons, Lawrence Street and Myrtle Avenue
On view through Friday, May 29
You will need to move quickly if you want to see this one as it closes Friday, May 29. This large exhibit by Sam Falls encompasses the outdoor plaza space at MetroTtech Center and plays with changes in various materials as they are exposed to rain, temperatures and sunlight. This interactive exhibit invites the viewer to lift, enter or sit on a piece and watch how colors and materials transform.
Uplift –Lower East Side
Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Chrystie Street between Houston and Delancey Streets
On view through Wednesday, August 19
Uplift, Jarrod Beck's stack of recycled rubber mats, tire materials and conveyor belts create an undulate pathway between the trees and the basketball courts in Sara D. Roosevelt Park. The exhibit is unique in that throughout it's year-long display, it will continually change with the environment. Visit the park on a bright, sunny day and the sculpture will appear to have a gray patina, while on a snowy or rainy day it will look slick and shiny. Visit after dark and watch as the black rubber mounds glitter thanks to an internal LED system.
Desire Lines – Midtown East
Doris C. Freedman Plaza, 60th Street and Fifth Avenue
On view through Sunday, August 30
This colorful display will have kids thinking about Central Park in a whole new way. The artist, Tatiana Trouvé spent months researching the park's many paths to create an avant-garde relief map. She noted the number of paths as well as the length of each one—all 212 are represented in her sculpture by a spool wound with a colored rope equivalent to the path's actual length. The spools are titled with a historical or cultural reference to walking and keyed so you can find it in the park too. You can also check out the hand-stitched documentation online.
Jeppe Hein: Please Touch the Art – Dumbo to Brooklyn Heights
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Piers 1-6
Sunday, May 17-Sunday, April 17, 2016
While Please Touch the Art is a major exhibit with 3 distinct bodies of work encompassing a total of 18 pieces, the overall concept is a playful one. As the title of the exhibit implies, this art is meant to be touched, created specifically for public engagement, and we parents will have a hard time pulling the kids away from it. The two largest pieces are "Appearing Rooms" which sounds like a play fountain, with water shooting up from the ground to create walls that come and go throughout the day allowing visitors to travel throughout the piece and "Mirror Labyrinth", shiny, stainless steel 'mirrors' of different heights to walk through for a carnival fun house feel. The display will also include Modified Social Benches, 16 red, whimsically shaped, angled, curved, twisted and bent benches meant to be sat on.
The Living Pyramid – Long Island City
Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Boulevard
Sunday, May 17-Sunday, August 30
Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City is slated to unveil an enormous plant-filled pyramid this season. The 30-foot square and 30-foot high structure is created by notable NYC artist Agnes Denes, well known for creating a two-acre wheat field out of the Battery Park landfill back in the 1980s. I expect the Living Pyramid will be stunning with grass and thousands of blooming wildflowers overlooking the East River. Got a green thumb? There will be a volunteer planting event on May 17 between 3-6pm. Details are forthcoming on the park's website.
Flow.15 – East Harlem
Randall's Island shoreline
Saturday, May 30-November
Randall’s Island will be hosting a new edition of FLOW, a series of site-specific artworks along its shoreline created by participants in the Bronx Museum’s Artists in the Marketplace program. In the past years, the pieces have been funky, diverse and sometimes even interactive.
Fata Morgana – Flatiron
Madison Square Park, 23rd to 26th Streets between Fifth and Madison Avenues
On view Monday, June 1 through winter
Mad. Sq. Art is set to debut its largest and most ambitious public art project to date: Teresita Fernández's Fata Morgana. The park is currently installing 500 feet of golden, reflective canopies above the pathways around the main oval lawn that resemble the park's greenery. The work should create a luminous glow as the sunlight passes through the carved metal. The result: a truly immersive experience that will change with the seasons.
For other spring exhibits, check out our roundup from some of NYC's favorite museums.