Back when I started to work in Midtown I began to notice public (or nearly public) art all over. The ever changing installations along Park Avenue, the IBM Building’s Garden Plaza Atrium, 9 W 57th Street and my favorite, the Lever House on Park Avenue. It is a classic building by Bunshaft that has often been imitated and looks across Park at its modern compatriot, the Seagrams building.
The Mezzanine level has a beautiful black and white Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing (#999 from 2001) hiding in plain site. Just step into the courtyard, look up and it reveals itself. The lobby area serves as a glass walled gallery jutting out towards Park Avenue. A few years back they had an ethereal Tara Donovan sculpture that garnered high praise. Its courtyard has hosted many sculptures including a Virgin Mother Hirst bronze, Tom Sachs Hello Kittys and currently a Bruce High Quality Foundation 12 foot high “union rat” entitled The New Colossus. The bronzed rat has its obvious connotations and I won’t say love the piece itself, but I do love that they are showing it on Park Avenue. The rat itself is menacing and, cast in bronze, provides this modern and clean showcase with a surprisingly grotesque gargoyle. Clearly union laborers had to install the statue and will have to de-install it as well. Ah, to be a fly on that glass wall.
The Bruce High Quality Foundation collective curates exhibitions, has a University (unaccredited) offering critiques and classes, and occasionally makes art (it seems). The painting that hangs in the lobby with assorted janitorial ready-made sculptures is a Warholian look at Iwo Jima. The sculptures play video and audio related to Martin Luther’s (the other one) 95 Theses. It looks and feels like a collective effort. Certainly this could be the resulting mashup by students digesting a course reader focused on Foucault and Benjamin with a splash of Danto. It is a collaborative installation treatise on treatises (should it be treatisii?). Still, Kudos to the mega-collector/property baron Aby Rosen for keeping it interesting in his exhibition space.
I truly wish there was a useful and usable resource for NYC public art mapping. NYC-Arts does a nice job of keeping up with the temporary ones. The WikiProject Public Art is a new resource as of 2009. It seems mostly in planning stages for now. I didn’t know it existed until it was mentioned here in a Times post about asking the public to help catalog the public sculpture work of Tony Smith. My favorite quote in a long time reads “We live in a world where every single one of the more than 500 television episodes of ‘The Simpsons’ has a well-researched Wikipedia article devoted to it, but by comparison there is practically no information about many of the greatest artworks of the 20th century,” said Richard McCoy.”
Personally, I couldn’t be happier that I will soon live in a world that has both!
If anyone has better resources for public art in New York or elsewhere, please let me know and I will share with the group!