Public Gardens are a wonderful form of Public Art.

What architect so noble…as he who, with far-reaching conception of beauty, in designing power, sketches the outlines, writes the colors, becomes the builder and directs the shadows of a picture so great that Nature shall be employed upon it for generations, before the work he arranged for her shall realize his intentions.  – Frederick Law Olmsted  http://www.fredericklawolmsted.com/

One of N. Americas most famous parks is Central Park  in New York City. We visited on our NY tour and, as always, are thrilled with how spectacular The Park truly is. On a gorgeous spring day like we had, the Park is especially luscious. Naturally, the Blossoms wanted their photo taken there, so we acted as all good tourist do, and added ourselves to the composition of photo taking couples! Central park is a garden oasis in the middle of a large city that bustles and tussles all the time.  Olmsted’s Philosophy about his work is so powerfully correct about Central Park (one of his own creations)  that it is a true tribute to his life and work.

The-Blossoms-at-Central-Park-Reservoir
The Blossoms, Central Park Reservoir, Central Park NYC

“Olmsted’s main goal, no matter what he was doing was to attempt to improve American society. He had visions of vast recreational and cultural achievements in the hearts of cities. He did not see parks as just vast meadows, but rather he saw them as places of harmony; places where people would go to escape life and regain their sanity. He wanted these parks to be available to all people no matter what walk of life the person followed.” www.fredericklawolmsted.com/philos.html

I am curious, how does this compare to a painting, a photograph, or a sculpture?  Olmsted  saw parks as places of harmony.  As I think about a piece of ART and that it is usually created for/with, harmony/angst, and/or to provoke thought. True?  If that is so, and a park is a place that empowers the harmony, then a garden (a park is often/usually a garden) IS  A WONDERFUL ART FORM. A garden encompasses many of your senses. Flowers have beautiful colors, scents, shapes and sizes. Garden walkways, and “hardscapes” can create direction or paths for our imaginations. Gardens water features can give sound, provoke a feeling of tranquility, a place to gaze and reflect. A garden by association is usually a place to sit back, to enjoy nature and it’s beauty. I have always believed that a garden is indeed ART, and a beautiful garden is a Masterpiece of Art!

The folks that design our large public parks are usually Landscape Architects. One of the “greats” was Frederick Law Olmsted. “Olmsted was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1822. Between 1837 and 1857, Olmsted performed a variety of jobs: he was a clerk, a sailor in the China trade, and a farmer, as well as many other professions. He moved to New York in 1848 and in 1857, without having ever had any college education, Olmsted became the superintendent of New York’s Central Park.

As the superintendent of the park he served as the administrator and then architect-in-chief of Central Park’s construction. Next, he served as the administrative head of the US Sanitary Commission, which was the forerunner of the American Red Cross. Finally his last job, before forming his own firm, was that of the manager of the vast Mariposa gold mining estate in California.

In addition to designing for urban life, Olmsted was anxious to preserve areas of natural beauty for future public enjoyment. He served as the first head of the commission in charge of preserving Yosemite Valley and was a leader in establishing the Niagara Reservation, which he planned with Calvert Vaux, in 1887.

Between 1872 and 1895, when he retired, Olmsted’s firm carried out 550 projects. These projects included college campuses, the grounds to the US Capitol, and residential communities.” www.fredericklawolmsted.com/bioframe.htm

If you are in the Boston MA area today (May 12) here is great chance to learn more.  Film: The Olmsted Legacy: America’s Urban Parks. 

This documentary explores the formation of America’s great city parks, including Boston’s own Emerald Necklace, through the eyes of 19th Century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The film traces the life of Olmsted: his early struggles in school, his personal tragedies and his unorthodox career path. Olmsted and his firm carried out more than 500 commissions, nearly 100 of which were public parks.His work includes the linear park system that stretches from the Back Bay Fens to Franklin Park known as the Emerald Necklace. A panel discussion, moderated by Julie Crockford, President, Emerald Necklace Conservancy, will follow the screening. The panelists will be Alan Banks, Supervisory Park Ranger, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site; Margaret Dyson, Director of Historic Parks, Boston Parks and Recreation; and Betsy Shure Gross, Board Member, City Parks Alliance and co-founder of the National Association for Olmsted parks. For more information on the documentary, visit www.theolmstedlegacy.org.

Fee $10  Offered with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy www.emeraldnecklace.org/   Like films? Like Gardens? Like learning new stuff? Check it out!

The Andy Monument (Public Art Fund)

The Andy Monument and Bloom
The Andy Monument and Bloom

Since Yesterday was sculpture and public ART it seemed logical to continue and chat today about Andy Warhol, his statute in Union Square and his art. Like yesterday, this post also has multi parts. #1 is Andy Warhol and his statue. #2 is the Public Art Fund Project. #3 is Food is an art at LAUT.

ART #1
Union Square is one of New York City’s most active social, cultural, and commercial centers. It is home to many well-known monuments, including statues of George Washington and Mahatma Gandhi. From 1968 to 1984 it was the location of Andy Warhol’s Factory, where he and his collaborators reinvented the conventional artist’s studio, producing silkscreen paintings, films, music, books, magazines, and more. With his Union Square Factory as a creative hub, Warhol became synonymous with the Downtown art scene.

Inspired by Warhol’s art and life, Rob Pruitt (b. 1964, Washington DC) created The Andy Monument as a tribute to the late artist. It stands on the street corner, just as Warhol did when he signed and gave away copies of Interview magazine. Pruitt’s sculpture adapts and transforms the familiar tradition of classical statuary. The figure is based on a combination of digital scanning of a live model and hand sculpting, its surface finished in chrome, mounted on a concrete pedestal. It depicts Warhol as a ghostly, silver presence: a potent cultural force as both artist and self-created myth.  As Rob Pruitt observes, “Like so many other artists and performers and people who don’t fit in because they’re gay or otherwise different, Andy moved here to become who he was, to fulfill his dreams and make it big. He still represents that courage and that possibility. That’s why I came to New York, and that’s what my Andy Monument is about.”  Nicholas Baume Director & Chief Curator, Public Art Fund”  http://www.publicartfund.org/robpruitt/project

When: Wednesday, March 30 to Sunday, October 2, 2011 Where:  17th Street & Broadway.

Rob Pruitt’s larger-than-life sculpture of famed pop artist Andy Warhol is the first public art installation to grace the Union Square district’s new pedestrian plazas at 17th Street & Broadway.

Inspired by Warhol’s art and life, Pruitt created The Andy Monument as a tribute to the late artist. It stands on the street corner, as Warhol did when he signed and gave away copies of Interview magazine just a few steps away from the entrance to where one of the Pop Art pioneer’s legendary Factory spaces once stood. The figure is based on a combination of digital scanning of a live model and hand sculpting, its surface finished in chrome, mounted on a concrete pedestal. It depicts Warhol as a ghostly, silver presence: a potent cultural force as both artist and self-created myth.

As Rob Pruitt observes, “Like so many other artists and performers and people who don’t fit in because they’re gay or otherwise different, Andy moved here to become who he was, to fulfill his dreams and make it big. He still represents that courage and that possibility. That’s why I came to New York, and that’s what my Andy Monument is about.”  http://www.unionsquarenyc.org/

Here are some nice facts to know about know Warhol: “Andy Warhol began as a commercial illustrator, and a very successful one, doing jobs like shoe ads for I. Miller in a stylish blotty line that derived from Ben Shahn. He first exhibited in an art gallery in 1962, when the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles showed his 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1961-62. From then on, most of Warhol’s best work was done over a span of about six years, finishing in 1968, when he was shot. And it all flowed from one central insight: that in a culture glutted with information, where most people experience most things at second or third hand through TV and print, through images that become banal and disassociated by repeated again and again and again, there is role for affectless art. You no longer need to be hot and full of feeling. You can be supercool, like a slightly frosted mirror. Not that Warhol worked this out; he didn’t have to. He felt it and embodied it. He was a conduit for a sort of collective American state of mind in which celebrity – the famous image of a person, the famous brand name – had completely replaced both sacredness and solidity.” http://www.artchive.com/artchive/W/warhol.html

Once again Bloom wanted to experience this art FIRST HAND (not as most people experience most things at second or third hand)- so up he hops, we snap a photo, and as he stands there for a while we are both thinking. Taking in the night sights we can see of Union Square, the noise, the scents, the folks passing by… we wonder what is was like to BE Andy Warhol, Bloom tries to feel it, to feel SUPER Cool – to be THE ONE– the IT guy for 15 minuets, or for 6 years. Like Yesterday we have again have a  “force” this time as both artist and self-created myth.Would you want “it? ”

ART #2 http://www.publicartfund.org/

“The Public Art Fund is New York’s leading presenter of artists’ projects, new commissions, and exhibitions in public spaces. For over 30 years the Public Art Fund has been committed to working with emerging and established artists to produce innovative exhibitions of contemporary art throughout New York City. By bringing artworks outside the traditional context of museums and galleries, the Public Art Fund provides a unique platform for an unparalleled public encounter with the art of our time…. Since 1977 (it’s beginnings) , Public Art Fund has presented more than five hundred artists’ projects throughout New York, making it possible for artists to engage diverse audiences and, along the way, redefine what public art is in relation to the changing nature of contemporary art. A comprehensive list of past projects can be found in our online archives, which are continually updated.”

How cool is that!
Art for the masses, art for the public, art where it can be seen and experienced by anyone who happens past it as we did.  Art for some who will make a destination to go and see, just like a museum -but so easy! I love Public art! Then to add to the coolness- there is a webpage just for Andy. The Public Art fund has done an amazing job; free smartphone app, free Audio Tour, Artist Talks and more- Check it out!!!!  http://www.publicartfund.org/robpruitt/

ART #3 This eve Bloom I had an AMAZING dinner at LAUT (http://lautnyc.com/) if  you have not tried it yet you need to RUN, not walk, downtown to them. The food (which is an art form itself) was the best meal I had had in a long time. The owner is charming and knows his foods, the cook must be amazing +++  for that how good the food is. “Lurking in all the fusion in this restaurant near Union Square is some of the best Malaysian food in Manhattan…Laut is well worth a visit.”www.nytimes.com/   RESTAURANT REVIEW | LAUT. It was after leaving the restaurant we stumbled upon the Andy Monument. Bloom jumps up – and insist I take a photo of him and Andy!