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New York as Outdoor Museum: A Self-Guided Public Art Walk in Lower Manhattan

One inspiring way to explore Lower Manhattan would be to take a long walk that highlights public art or other artwork accessible to the public. By connecting the dots, or rather, the geographical points of these sculptures and installations, New York becomes a big free outdoor museum. 

With its tapered narrow geography between the two rivers, Lower Manhattan is not only a convenient area to walk, but it's rich in public art. With an emphasis on modern and contemporary art, the walk can also provoke a delightful dialogue between art and architecture, or between sea and shore. In a real sense, the most famous public art in NYC - the Statue of Liberty - can be easily viewed from the shoreline.

This suggested self-guided walk (map below, revised and expanded from an earlier post) begins in City Hall Park. The park frequently serves as a site for temporary projects of the Public Art Fund. (Currently, a group exhibition there titled "Common Ground" explores individual responses to the changing art historical notions of public and monumental art.) 

In terms of permanent work, nearby is Tony Rosenthal's Five in One in Police Plaza, just behind the Municipal Building. From there, walk south on Broadway and swing east on Maiden Lane to see the seven black sculptures by Louise Nevelson (above right) in the plaza devoted to her work. Back and around the corner, stop to see Group of Four Trees, 1969-72 (right) by Jean Dubuffet in the plaza of Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza off of Pine Street. (related post )


Head back west on Cedar Street to Broadway to check out The Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi at the HSBC Building, 140 Broadway, and across the street, Joie de Vivre (left) by Mark Di Suvero in Zuccotti Park. That sculpture, one that may be familiar to those who followed Occupy Wall Street's history with the park, makes a good pairing with the next stop, Charging Bull, by artist Arturo di Modica at the north tip of Bowling Green. After Bowling Green, swing down through Battery Park to see The Sphere, the 1971 work by Fritz Koenig damaged in the World Trade Center attack, and then to the American Merchant Mariners' Memorial by Marisol.



The next phase is the pleasurable stroll north up the shore. The Battery Park City Authority's collection of contemporary public art is one of the finest in the city. Included on the map are several of these projects -   Ape and Cat (At the Dance) by Jim Dine in Battery Park; South Cove, 1988, a collaboration of artist Mary Miss, architect Stanton Eckstut, and landscape architect Susan Child; Rector Gate by R. M. Fischer, The Upper Room, 1987 (right) by Ned Smyth and the pylons by Martin Puryear just north of the North Cove.  (below)

pylons, Martin Puryear, Battery Park

Just a little farther north of the World Financial Center, step into the art-filled lobby of Conrad New York to see the stunning 13-story tapestry by Sol LeWitt. From there, head back toward the World Trade Center complex to see Balloon Flower (Red) by Jeff Koons at 7 WTC Park. (below)



One last work, appropriate for a long walk, is the wraparound construction site mural - Walking Men 99 (below) at 99 Church St, part of the Re:Construction public art program of the Downtown Alliance. The work by artist Maya Barkai depicts the various pedestrian traffic light signs from cities all over the world.




This is a walk for pedestrians, but it's hardly a pedestrian walk.


View Connect the Dots: A Self-Guided Public Art Walk in Lower Manhattan: in a larger map

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple.

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