Escape from CAA: Public Art for the Soul in New York City

Volume 9, Issue 1

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Escape from CAA: Public Art for the Soul in New York City

by Jennifer K. Favorite

86 St 2 Av Jan 2017 11
The new 86th Street Station on the 2nd Avenue Line in January 2017 by Epicgenius

We at Public Art Dialogue would like to welcome CAA members back to New York for the 2017 Annual Conference. During CAA, one thing is certain: you’ll spend most of your time inside the New York Hilton Midtown, racing from room to room and escalator to escalator. The moment you feel the psychedelic carpeting of the conference suites closing in on you, you’ll know it’s time to seek reprieve in one of New York City’s many examples of art in the public sphere.

If in need of a longer break from the rigors of the conference, take the F train (and warm clothes) to Roosevelt Island, and walk to its southernmost point to absorb the expansive views and soothing symmetry available at Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) Four Freedoms Park. Designed by Louis I. Kahn (1901-1974) in tribute to FDR, the park’s construction was postponed upon the untimely death of its architect and the 1970s budget crisis in New York City. Thanks to the efforts of the Roosevelt Institute and former ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel, the monument opened to the public in 2012. A bust of Roosevelt by Jo Davidson is mounted inside an open-air “room” facing the river and dedicated to the president’s Four Freedoms speech of 1941.

The Public Art Fund’s Commercial Break opens just before CAA, and conference attendees can find one work from the show online. A restaging of sorts of the organization’s Times Square series Messages to the Public (1982-1990), Commercial Break will broadcast two dozen separate works by artists including Cory Arcangel, Hayal Pozanti, Jacolby Satterwhite, and Awol Erizku on digital screens in Manhattan (Times Square; Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub mall), Brooklyn (the Barclays Center oculus), and across the city’s LinkNYC wifi kiosks (hand sanitizer recommended). Casey Jane Ellison’s contribution to the exhibition will be hosted on publicartfund.org.

In December 2016, the New York City AIDS Memorial was dedicated on West 12th Street and Greenwich Avenue in the West Village. Designed by competition winner Studio ai, the polygonal white canopy sits across from the former site of St. Vincent’s Hospital, which hosted the first AIDS ward on the East Coast, closed in 2010, and was redeveloped into luxury condominiums and townhouses. Although still under construction, the AIDS Memorial will include a Jenny Holzer piece, a water feature, and benches once completed.

Finally, for those itching to feel like real New Yorkers, get your Metrocard ready and take a tour of the Second Avenue Subway, which opened in Manhattan on January 1 of this year. Each of the four new stations features large-scale installations commissioned for the benefit of weary commuters by the grace of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Arts for Transit program. Take the opportunity to see these works by Jean Shin, Vik Muniz, Chuck Close, and Sarah Sze while they are shiny and new!

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