Park Avenue is ordinarily not that much fun for pedestrians. A thoroughfare dominated by formidable and expensive apartment buildings and with few shops, Park Avenue is more amenable to vehicular traffic than foot traffic. It's inhumanly wide, so that even the most in-shape pedestrian, hurrying to cross the street, gets stuck in the median. As a site-specific installation, Will Ryman: The Roses, a work consisting of glorious 38 blossom sculptures from 57th to 67th Streets, helps ease this everyday city stress.
Towering 25-feet tall stems, a few gathered bouquets near the ground, and many strewn petals, all fabricated in tough weather-resistant materials, make for visions of pink and rose beauty for winter-weary New Yorkers. Don't miss the bugs. Ladybugs, beetles, and bees have landed on top of the blooms or under a petal, or they're scurrying up a stem. This stretch of Park Avenue possesses an undulating topography, so The Roses can be seen from varying vantage points. Also plan to revisit the roses with the change of seasons. The blossom sculptures, on view through May 31, 2011, should highlight the gradual restart of the growing season. Many of us are ready for that.
One good measure of the success of a public art project is the number of people with less than a professional interest in art eagerly pulling out their cameras to take pictures of it. By that measure, on a snow covered Sunday afternoon, The Roses proved a big success. One grown woman nearly squealed with delight when she spotted them from 67th Street. Several people invited their friends to pose with the petals. And in a scene befitting the Upper East Side, a woman in fur stepped out of a cab in the middle of the street to take a picture and then hopped back in.
Will Ryman: The Roses is presented by Paul Kasmin Gallery, in conjunction with New York City’s Department of Parks & Recreation, and the Fund for the Park Avenue Sculpture Committee.
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from Sunday, January 30, 2011.