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
Article link: http://www.tribecatrib.com/content/2-sculptural-works-civic-center-one-looks-back-other-forward

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

Our Memories @ Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park

Date: April 20th, 2018
Time: 10 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Location: Naumburg Bandshell, Central Park (~70th Street and mid-park), New York, NY, 10019
Filming All Day
Press Release PDF Our Memories in Central 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 are being created for the Naumburg Bandshell and Thomas Paine Park installations and they will be exhibited along with the sealed Governors Island sculptures. The Our Memories project is both a collective memorial, 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.

After the Central Park event on April 20th, the seven filled sculptures will be moved to Thomas Paine Park in Downtown Manhattan for a 10 month installation and Opening on May 4th.

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 www.nyc.gov/parks/art.

Our Memories @ Art Park 21 Proposal on view Open Space Visitor Center

Exhibition: Art Park 21 Finalist Proposals.
Date: March 3rd – April 22nd, 2018.
Location: Open Space Visitor Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Art Park 21 Website

Our Memories Proposal Rendering

A 21st Century Art Park
The AP21 team is in the process of establishing a 21st-century art park in the Albuquerque – Santa Fe corridor.  A key element in the groundwork for establishing this park will be a temporary exhibit of multiple outdoor installations that fit the theme of the park.  The park will feature eco-centric installations that take 21st-century views of what could be possible in an art park, and of our relationship with our environment.  Installations that are the product of collaboration between one or more artists/artisans and an engineer/scientist/researcher/technician will be welcome, as would artworks that make use of new knowledge, materials, techniques or technology and place a value on a sustainability.  Potential themes and scopes of artworks could include those that incorporate atmospheric elements such as wind, rain, sunlight, humidity; artworks that incorporate plant life, recycled or repurposed elements; artworks that generate electricity; interactive artworks; artworks that explore the interface between three-dimensional art and architecture.

The Open Space Visitor Center in Albuquerque has invited the Art Park 21 team to exhibit drawings and renderings of proposed temporary art installations consistent with the theme of the envisioned art park. Through a call to artists which was juried by Nancy Zastudil, we have a body of fourteen proposals by twelve artists which will be on display at the center March 3 through April 22, 2018. Opening reception is March 3, 2-4 pm. All of the concept proposals that are included in the exhibit will be published in a catalog to accompany the exhibit and on the ArtPark21.org site. Proposals that are approved by the Open Space Advisory Board will be eligible to be realized on the grounds of the center in 2019.

Our Memories at Art Park 21 
Our Memories at Art Park 21 manifests as an audience participatory outdoor installation of translucent, neuron-inspired sculptures that contain cavities for participants to place color-coded “memory” stones.

The acrylic memory stones are classified into six primary emotions: joy, anger, love, sadness, fear, and surprise. Contributors transform the sculptures by recalling a powerful memory and then depositing its representative stone in a sculpture. The sculptures will take on the colors of the collective “memories” and transform as the piece comes to life and stores more memories. This action is intended to visually incite participants to consider the concept of the interior self, particularly how our experiences and memories are encoded and stored. This active act of recollection not only stirs up personal memories, it also physiologically generates a new “collective memory”. The work is both a collective memorial, made complete by hundreds of individual memories, and an experience that connects participants to their present moment and to one another. The larger vision is to add new and distinct memory sculptures with each installation, ultimately collecting emotions and memories from people all over the world.

Our Memories and Art Park 21 are both committed to innovative community building that connects people to their surrounding environment and to one another, and it is my belief that this collaborative memory making experience will leave a lasting impression on park visitors.