New York’s Best Public Art Installations this Season

Author: Ameena Walker
Publication: Curbed
Published: April 27, 2018
Article PDF: New York’s Best Public Art Installations this Season
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Spring is finally here, which means it’s time to take a look at some of the most exciting public art installations coming to New York this spring and summer. Last year, works like Lincoln Center’s “Hippo Ballerina” and Henry Taylor’s High Line-dominating self-portrait captured attention; this year, expect new pieces from talented artists, both local and worldwide, to turn heads.

Here, we’ve collected more than a dozen worth scouting in the next few months, some of which are in place already. As more cool projects come to light, we’ll update the map—and as always, if you know of anything that we may have missed, let us know in the comments.

2. Judith Modrak: “Our Memories”

In “Our Memories,” sculptor Judith Modrak has crafted seven interactive installations that recognize “the need to record one’s personal experience,” per its description. Visitors are asked to recall a “powerful memory” and then share it by depositing a color-coded stone into one of the sculptures. The colors correspond to six emotions: joy, anger, love, sadness, fear, and surprise. The sculptures will appear in lower Manhattan’s Thomas Paine Park for 10 months beginning in May, after a short stint in Central Park.

Judith Modrak.
Lafayette St & Worth St
New York, NY 10007

Our Memories in Thomas Paine Park

Date: May 2018 – March 2019
Park is open daily: 6 a.m. until midnight
Opening Reception: May 4th from 10 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Location: Thomas Paine Park, Lafayette Street and Worth Street, New York, NY 10007
Press Release PDF
Our Memories at Thomas Paine Park

Our Memories is an evolving audience participatory installation. Recognizing the need to record one’s personal experience, these neuron inspired sculptures contain cavities in which the participants place a color-coded “memory stone”. Viewers recall a powerful memory and then share the memory by depositing it in a sculpture. The “memory stones” are color-coded into six emotive categories: joy, anger, love, sadness, fear, and surprise. New sculptures will be filled during one-day events on April 20th at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park and May 4th in Thomas Paine Park. The seven sculptures will then be on view for 10 months. The Our Memories project is both a collective memorial piece, made complete by thousands of individual memories from people all over the world, and an experience that connects us to our core and to one another.

Special thanks to the NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program, and to the contributions of private donors in making this exhibition possible.

For over 50 years, NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program has brought contemporary public artworks to the city’s parks, making New York City one of the world’s largest open-air galleries. The agency has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, NYC Parks has collaborated with arts organizations and artists to produce over 2,000 public artworks by 1,300 notable and emerging artists in over 200 parks. For more information about the program visit

More information about Thomas Paine Park.

2 Sculptural Works For Civic Center, One Looks Back, the Other Forward

Author: Carl Glassman
Publication: Tribeca Trib
Published: March 27, 2018
Article PDF: 2 Sculptural Works For Civic Center, One Looks Back, the Other Forward
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Left: Rendering of Our Memories by Judith Modrak in Thomas Paine Park. Right: He Thought This Was Going to Be a Year of Good Fortune, by Gillie and Marc, to be installed in Foley Square. The installations are part of the city Parks Department’s Public Arts Program. Photos courtesy of Judith Modrak and Gillie and Marc

Two temporary sculptural works are coming to the Civic Center, and they could hardly be more different. Yet each will offer its own appealing counterpoint to the stone­cold halls of justice and government that surround them.

Next month in Foley Square, near the corner of Centre and Worth Streets, you will find the 900­pound, life­sized bronze sculpture of what its creators, Gillie and Marc Shattner, call their dogman. The creature, a recurring motif in their work, has the body of a man in a business suit and the head of a hound. For this one, titled He Thought This was Going to Be a Year of Good Fortune, their dogman is seated, a shiny red apple in his hand.

The collaborating artists, who are married and based in Australia, say on their website that the dog­man concept is inspired by the philosophy of ancient Egyptians, who believed that “by placing the head of an animal on a human, the person could take on some of the qualities of that animal. Gillie and Marc are dog lovers, and they believe the qualities of dogs— unconditional love, loyalty—are beautiful, and maybe something all humans could benefit from.”

The piece, which will be up only through May, is being sponsored in Foley Square by the Chinatown Partnership, a business improvement district. Its executive director, Wellington Chen, said the sculpture ties into the Chinese Year of the Dog, and red is a symbol of good luck. (“We always want a good omen for the Lunar New Year,” he said.) But more importantly, he told a Community Board 1 committee this month, the installation is part of an experiment to help bring more visitors to Chinatown, a neighborhood that he said continues to suffer as a result of security barriers. Though just outside of Chinatown, Chen said Foley Square is one of seven “portals” into the neighborhood.

Originally planned for a site near the Kimlau War Memorial monument in Chatham Square, the sculpture drew protests from some Chinatown residents who complained it would be disrespectful to the memory of the Chinese-American soldiers honored by the memorial.  Chen vehemently denied the claim, but another site had to be found and this one offers one bonus, he said. “It’s right opposite the marriage bureau, so it provides a background for photo ops.”

Rendering of two of Judith Modrak’s filled and sealed “Our Memories” sculptures in Thomas Paine Park. The seven sculptures will be grouped in three locations in the park. Photo: Judith Modrak (rendering)

In nearby Thomas Paine Park, at Lafayette and Worth Streets, Judith Modrak will be collecting Our Memories, as she calls her project. The artist asks participants to choose among six colored acrylic stones, a different color for a different emotion—joy, anger, love, sadness, fear and surprise—that is tied to a strong memory. Those “memories” are dropped into a translucent, fiberglass vessel of Modrak’s design and, when filled, is permanently sealed. During the opening of “Our Memories,” on May 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., people will have a chance to add their memories, and color, to one of the vessels. She calls the project a collective memorial “that connects us to our core and to one another.”

“As the sculptures collect more and more memories, they come alive,” Modrak said. “So you’re really seeing them transformed.”

“You’re recalling your own personal memory but you’re also creating a new physiological memory in your brain,” the artist added.

There will be seven sculptures in the park, only one of them open for new memories. The others will have either been filled during a 2016 installation on Governors Island or an upcoming event on April 20 at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park. The sculptures will be installed at the beginning of May and remain there for a year.

Judith Modrak in her Union Square studio. Photo: Metin Oner