Jun 28, 2015

Points of Pride: Today's March

Weddings. Photo from 2011, when same-sex weddings were legalized in New York State. 

New York's Pride March begins at noon at 36th St. & Fifth Ave. and will end at Christopher & Greenwich Streets. With this week's Supreme Court decision upholding same-sex marriage across the union, marchers can truly celebrate a landmark moment in American history.

Washington Square Park. Pride Weekend, 2011. 

Jun 8, 2015

Madison Square Park in the Shade: Teresita Fernández and the Golden Canopies

This summer, a walk along the oval paths in Madison Square Park takes on an extra dimension in mood and light. Overhead, reflective golden canopies affixed on scaffolding swirl in circular leafy shapes, mirroring the leaves of nearby trees. The artwork is by Teresita Fernández (b. 1968), a 2005 MacArthur Fellow and Brooklyn-based artist known for landscape sculpture. The work is said to be the largest installation in the history of the park, a big claim as the program Mad. Sq. Art has hosted many ambitious exhibitions by well-known artists, especially in recent years.

Each overhead piece is constructed as parallel raggedy cutouts, like ice cream sandwiches, and layered. The sunshine spills down through the openings and dapples the walkways and passersby. In turn, the patterned light reflects back up on the mirrored canopies, creating endless and varying conversations among the trees, ourselves, the sun, and the sidewalk.

While the dappled sunshine is cool and welcoming, the title of the work, Fata Morgana, refers to the illusion at the ocean's horizon line that sends sailors to death at sea. Here, the semblance of mirage or even an attempt at high art is undermined by the serious and necessary weight of the steel scaffold, distracting at times, that prevent the canopies from crashing down on the paver sidewalks. I am grateful for this. I also somehow missed the promised glow from a distance, but it could have been the time of day. Each section is alluring, nevertheless, both as a magnet for another round for strolling or just for sitting, but I also think an esplanade of real trees often achieves the same effect.

Jun 3, 2015

The Ghost Mirror of History: At the Morris-Jumel Mansion

Imagine a formal sit-down dinner during the colonial era in the dining parlor of a mansion. The mansion and its gardens sit high on a hill with long and deep views of rivers and a harbor. Inside, the host and his company conduct the busy work of a new government, promoting the economy and transforming fellow soldiers into enterprising citizens for peacetime. At the periphery of the table, servants and domestics attend to the guests' needs in hushed silences, disappearing when needed into the mansion's dark stairways and basements. Many were slaves.

exterior, Morris-Jumel Mansion.