2016 Public Art Installations
Community Boatbuilding at 99 Plymouth
The experienced boatbuilders of the Village Community Boathouse led volunteers in constructing a 14-foot-long Whitehall rowboat in the Community Room at 99 Plymouth. Named after the Lower Manhattan street that now ends at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, Whitehalls were the water taxis of their day, speedily ferrying passengers across the East River and to and from ships at anchor in the harbor. The shape and dimensions of this boat were drawn from a Whitehall built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1890. The Village Community Boathouse built the boat over six weeks in April and May 2016.
Colleen Flanigan & Judith Pleva: NYC Oyster Project
Inspired by Brooklyn’s native oyster reefs, NYC Oyster Project, featured color photographs of Colleen Flanigan’s underwater sculptures and Judith Pleva’s unbound multimedia scrapbook. Flanigan and Pleva’s work illuminates the beauty of marine life as well as the relationships between organisms in New York City’s waterways. This immersive installation examined the kindred associations between organisms and their environment and sheds light on the benevolent influence of public parks and nature reserves on the human psyche. NYC Oyster Project celebrates the improvement to the New York Harbor’s human environment provided by the construction of Brooklyn Bridge Park. NYC Oyster Project was presented in partnership with the Brooklyn Arts Council and was on display at 99 Plymouth in June 2016.
Rush Kids & Teens: Rush Will Take You To Funkytown!
For the second year, BBP welcomed the talented young artists of the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation’s Summer Session to 99 Plymouth to design and install original murals in the gallery and Community Room. Summer Session is one of the Rush Education Programs that seeks to provide underserved youth with exposure to the arts and opportunities to practice them. 2016’s colorful murals, titled Rush Will Take You To Funkytown!, took inspiration from the artwork of Xenobia Bailey and from the vibrant energy of the Park. Bailey, a New York-based and long-standing Rush Teaching Artist, is known for her eye-catching, abstract works, many of which can be seen in the city’s public spaces, including her 2015 installation at Hudson Yards, Funktional Vibrations. Rush Will Take You To Funkytown! was on display at 99 Plymouth from July to September 2016.
Deborah Kass: OY/YO
Acclaimed artist Deborah Kass’ monumental sculpture OY/YO, commissioned by Two Trees Management Co., walks the line between respectful homage and brazen appropriation. Sourced from urban and Brooklyn slang, the statement “I am” in Spanish, and the popular Yiddish expression, OY/YO has been a significant and reoccurring motif in Kass’ work, taking form in paintings, prints, and tabletop sculptures. Set alongside the iconic bridges of Brooklyn’s waterfront and visible to viewers from Manhattan, BBP’s Main Street lawn was an apt location for a monumental installation of OY/YO. Similar to the City of New York’s “Leaving Brooklyn: Oy Vey!” sign at the Williamsburg Bridge and the “Leaving Brooklyn: Fuhgeddaboudit” sign on the BQE, OY/YO references Brooklyn’s ethnic communities with whimsy and warmth. OY/YO was on display at Main Street from November 2015 to September 2016.
THE FENCE is an annual collaboration between United Photo Industries, Photo District News (PDN), Brooklyn Bridge Park, and many more organizations that join forces to curate and produce this unique exhibition aimed at fostering conversations and exploring new thematic directions in photography. In 2016, a jury of 45 leading photography and art professionals selected work by 40 photographers to be featured, all touching on the common theme of community. Their selections were seen by an audience of over 3 million people in five locations across the country. At BBP, THE FENCE was presented in a number of segments, which invited visitors to explore the Park to see them all. THE FENCE was on view from June to September 2016.
Mustafah Abdulaziz: Water Stories
Since 2011, American photographer Mustafah Abdulaziz has travelled the world for his long-term photographic project on water. In the summer of 2016, he focused on New York’s waterways and water challenges. The resulting work was displayed in Water Stories, an open‐air solo lightbox exhibition, alongside images from Brazil, China, India, Pakistan and Nigeria as part of Photoville at BBP. The project was a collaboration with Earthwatch, WaterAid and WWF, and was supported by the HSBC Water Programme. Water Stories was on display in Empire Fulton Ferry from September to October 2016.
Martin Creed: Understanding
One of Great Britain’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, Martin Creed works in a wide array of media, making use of existing materials and situations to question the definition of art with a playful approach to conceptual minimalism. Creed’s Understanding, presented by Public Art Fund, featured a 25-foot-tall rotating red neon sculpture commissioned specifically for BBP’s Pier 6. Defined by red neon lights, the word ‘understanding’ was formed from individual steel letters and supported by an industrial I-beam mounted to a post and rotated on a central axis. The beam spun at varying speeds, the rhythm determined by a computerized program designed by Creed. The post stood in the center of a stepped base reminiscent of a ziggurat that acted as seating for park visitors. The work, Creed’s largest public sculpture to date, was highly visible from Pier 6—a luminous sign with a clear and poignant message—while it visually interacted with the City’s well-known skyline. Understanding was on display from May to October 2016.
Mary Mattingly: Swale
Created by artist Mary Mattingly, Swale is both an evolving sculpture and a functioning farm producing healthy food. Built from recycled materials and set atop a 130x40 foot barge, Swale was created with two goals in mind: to highlight the function of food as a public resource in cities and to show that recycled materials can be made into productive and aesthetically pleasing structures. Visitors to Swale saw persimmon, bok choy, yucca, onion, tomatillos, herbs and other perennial fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants. Water to nourish the plants is taken directly from the East River and filtered through slow sand and activated carbon filters. Rainwater is collected from the rooftop of the Biome Arts Greenhouse Theater, a pavilion on the barge that serves as a performance space, activist meeting area, and artist gallery. Partnering with local schools and organizations, Swale hosted a variety of interactive programs and events. Swale was docked at Pier 6 and open to the public from September until November 2016.
Hilary Lorenz: Birding
Brooklyn Bridge Park is home to over 120 species of birds. For Birding, Hilary Lorenz put herself in the role of bird watcher, complete with binoculars and log book, to identify and photograph as many birds as possible throughout the Park. For six months, Lorenz made bi-weekly bird watching trips to the Park. After photographing the birds, Lorenz drew each image onto linoleum and carved it out. Using a hand crank printing press, she made multiple impressions of each block onto paper before cutting out each bird. Lorenz arranged the richly colored and textured prints along 99 Plymouth’s hallway in groups of aquatic birds including Canada geese, mallard ducks, wood ducks, mergansers, seagulls and more. 99 Plymouth’s Community Room contained similarly produced images arranged to represent the bird habitat at the Pier 1 Salt Marsh. Lorenz also led demonstrations of carving and printing a linoleum block on a portable printing press. Participants were invited to ink pre-cut linoleum blocks and print an image to add to the artwork on the Community Room’s walls. Birding was on display from October 2016 until January 2017.