Jumpin Comes to NYC

People cross a busy NYC street.

Image: Shutterstock

Pearlfisher, the London-based creative agency (read: marketing and branding firm), calls its traveling “grown up” ball bit an art installation. That’s one of the beauties of art as a label – if you say a thing is art, who’s to say it’s not? But how many of the lucky ticket holders to the exhibit’s month-long run in New York City are going there to “experience the transformative power of play,” and how many are just going to swim through the 81,000 white balls, just below the surface, humming the Jaws theme loudly?

Beginning in London last year, the Jumpin installation enjoyed viral success, with over 15,000 requests for bookings all over the world. New York is its first American visitation, opening right in Pearlfisher’s own new SoHo office building.

Mike Branson, founding partner and CEO of the company, hopes it will inspire companies in all manner of fields to use more creative, playful techniques to inspire their employees.

Jumpin, whether art installation or genius viral marketing stunt, is open from August 21 to September 21 to people 11 and over. While tickets are free with encouraged donation, the NYC visitation is completely sold out for its entire duration at this time. However, increased public interest has spawned rumors of a second installation to be announced soon.

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Against the Run

An aerial view of Central Park.

Image: Shutterstock

New York City may be the “city that never sleeps,” but it is definitely a city that runs on its clocks. Rush hour, closing time, first-second-third shifts: everyone has a schedule, and time is always rushing by. The city is even centered around Times Square.

“We like to keep it moving – this is New York,” said Public Art Fund director Nicholas Baume in a phone interview about one of the rushing city’s newest art installations, Against the Run in Central Park.

A passerby in a hurry to beat their own clock might not even notice the truth of the piece. It’s strikingly simple – Just a black-painted clock with a big white face, standing at the edge of Central Park on Doris C. Freedman Plaza. But if they glance up to check the time, they’ll be forced to take a second look. And probably a third.

The red second hand will stand still, always pointed directly up. The minute and hour hands will move in their normal directions. And the face of the clock will rotate counter-clockwise. And amidst all of this, the clock will always tell the correct time.

It’s hard to visualize from the page, and bound to be a bit confusing in person, but that is what the artist, Polish-born Alicja Kwade, likes to see. She enjoys creating works that appear not to work while still functioning exactly as they need to, creating confusion by defying convention that is, after all, entirely arbitrary.

Against the Run will be on view in Central Park from September 10th 2015 through February 14 2016. It is Kwade’s first solo public art commission. Her work was previously included in the Public Art Fund’s 2013 group show at City Hall Park, “Lightness of Being.”

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The Met Celebrates 100 Years of Asian Art

The front of the Met building.

Image: T Photography/Shutterstock

To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City will open exhibits of Asian art, including lacquer, fabric, and textiles. The exhibit opened in January of this year and will stay open through the spring of 2016.

The New York Times reports that the lacquer show includes works that were donated by Florence and Herbert Irving, a donation which included dishes, boxes, some of which feature real mother-of-pearl. Silk, an important product of China’s history, will also be featured: three pieces from the Tang dynasty will be available for viewing as well as a Song dynasty tapestry and Yuan dynasty cloth.

Asian art has long been a part of the Met’s collection, though it did not have an official section until one hundred years ago, according to the museum’s release. The Met is proud of its collection, explaining: “The Museum’s comprehensive art displays, presenting more than five millennia of Asian artworks, enable audiences to explore firsthand the richness, sophistication, and complexity of Asia’s wide-ranging artistic traditions.”

The centennial celebration will feature nineteen exhibits and installations. Currently running are Korea: 100 Years of Collecting at the Met, Discovering Japanese Art: American Collectors at the Met, Celebration of the Year of the Ram, and Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas, among many others. You can view a complete list of past and upcoming exhibits here.

Thomas P. Campbell, director of the museum, acknowledged that the celebration could not take place without the contributions of many generous donors in a March press release. “[The donors’] generous gifts are a testament to the exceptional work that has been done over the past 100 years to create an Asian art collection unrivaled in the West,” he says. “They also point to an outstanding future that will continue to build on this legacy.”

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No Longer Empty: An NYC Transformation

People cross a busy, colorful street in NYC.

Image: OneInchPunch/Shutterstock

New York City, a place with a high percentage of abandoned structures, is getting a colorful facelift in some areas. No Longer Empty, a local nonprofit, is turning neglected buildings and storefronts into art installations and exhibits—and what’s more, the exhibits are meant to showcase a neighborhood’s history and community.

The nonprofit, founded in 2009, aims to tell the let local artists tell the stories of different New York City neighborhoods through their work. The nonprofit’s first project was a response to the 2009 financial crisis, as the collapse of Lehman Brothers left many open spaces around the city. NLE founder and chief curator, Manon Slome, says that site-specific art has always been part of her mission. “Responding to a site became the center of the way we were curating the exhibition and eventually the programming,” she says. A 2009 art exhibit responded to the Lehman Brothers and financial crisis; another at the Clock Tower in Long Island City spoke to currency and value. The Clock Tower was recently declared a local landmark.

Part of NLE’s mission, according to its website, is to engage the community and bring people together through art and its appreciation. The group “works with internationally recognized curators to feature established artists alongside emerging artists,” offering spaces to both. What the nonprofit aims to do is to make art accessible to everyone, to revitalize people and neighborhoods, and to strengthen communities.

Kameelah Janon Rasheed, a young artist whose work was featured in a Sugar Hill exhibit, says, “[This exhibit] is a great way for me to create an artistic project that relates to the community. Art should be for the community, to think about change, to engage with their own realities.” Little by little, with the help of local artists like Rasheed, the deserted places of New York City are remembering who they are, where they’ve been, and where they have yet to go.

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Frida Kahlo’s Garden

Frida Kahlo's Garden

Don’t miss out on seeing Friday Kahlo’s Garden at NYBG. | Image: via Instagram.

One doesn’t have to be a devotee of Frida Kahlo to recognize her paintings; her style is one of the most distinctive in the long history of portrait artists, full of deeply personal symbolism. Every bit as iconic as the colorful dresses she painted herself wearing, the flowers in her hair and backgrounds and hands were deliberate expressions of her own life.

Certain plants appear over and over in her portraits – Elephant-Ear leaves are often her backdrops, and viejo cactus shows up again and again. Both of these native Mexican plants and many more filled the gardens of her family home in Coyoacán, on the outskirts of Mexico City. It was her father’s home first – he bought it in 1904. When Kahlo married Diego River in 1929, they lived together in the same house and filled it with art and antiques and built the garden until it was all but a jungle. Visitors to Mexico City can still tour it – it has been kept intact in her honor. But for those less able to travel, there is still a way to walk among Kahlo’s inspirations.

Inside a conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden, art students and botanists have collaborated to build an homage. With walls painted the precise blue of ‘Casa Azul,’ that original house, the exhibit centers around a courtyard filled with the plants among which Kahlo lived and painted. Central to the exhibit is a tiered pyramid painted in bright colors, bearing dozens of potted flowers and cactuses. The original pyramid, one of Kahlo’s own garden features, was built to showcase Riviera’s collection of ancient Aztec sculptures.

Among the trees and plantings in the exhibit, twelve original works by Kahlo are on display, including several of her still-life paintings of fruit. All of her subjects were locally grown, either in her own garden or bought at local street markets.

Tucked away in the greenery, there is one last treat for visitors of the garden – a recreation of Kahlo’s workbench at Casa Azul, with paint and brushes all left as though she had just stepped away from her work, perhaps to walk among her own plantings seeking that last stubborn hue of inspiration.

“Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life” will be open at The New York Botanical Garden until November 1, 2015.

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Mad Sq. Art presents Fata Morgana

Fata Morgana

Madison Square Park is 6.2 acres in the middle of Manhattan, a little pocket of green right off of Broadway itself. It sees more than 50,000 visitors a day, between locals, pedestrians, tourists and those who work in the surrounding businesses.

In 2004, Madison Square Park Conservancy launched Mad. Sq. Art, a program to bring artwork from living artists into that space, free to the public. What they seek for display is art on a monumental scale that excites public interaction, and in Fata Morgana, they got that in spades.

The work of installation artist Teresita Fernández, 47, Fata Morgana is a site-specific work designed for the park to use the space above the heads of passersby while still affecting their experience of the park.

Held aloft by unobtrusive poles, the sculpture is 500 running feet of pierced golden, mirror-polished disks. It creates vast canopies after the park’s central Oval Lawn, while letting through erratic shafts of sunlight to draw lacy, tree-like patterns on grass and pathways and viewers. Above, the polished metal creates a soft glow across the landscape, making the whole effect that of a fantasy forest, projected into the middle of the surrounding city.

When asked about her project, Ms. Fernández said, “My concept was to invert the traditional notion of outdoor sculpture by addressing all of the active walkways of the Park rather than setting down a sculptural element in the Park’s center. By hovering over the Park in a horizontal band, Fata Morgana becomes a ghost-like, sculptural, luminous mirage that both distorts the landscape and radiates golden light.”

Fata Morgana opened in the park on June 1st, 2015 and will remain in place at least through the winter.

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Mmeuseumm Lets Visitors Look at the Big through the Small

Mmuseumm

Artist Maira Kalman sweeps in front of Mmuseumm. Image: via Instagram.

An elevator inside a museum is not an unusual thing. But a museum inside an an elevator, that makes a person look twice. The Mmuseumm, one of New York City’s smallest cultural institutions, is exactly that, a 36-square-foot space that was once a freight elevator, facing off a narrow, graffiti-ed alleyway in the area of Tribeca.

Packed into that small space on clean white shelves with sterile lighting are 16 collections that “explore themes of daily human existence, social issues, and current events.” The collections range from a set of incubating chicken eggs expected to hatch any day to a set of 3D-printed masks based on DNA collected from tossed-aside gum and cigarette butts.

The Mmuseumm refers to itself as a “modern natural history museum,” and its goal is to catalog the artifacts of humanity today, rather than the past. One of the collects is prison handicrafts. Another is handmade anti-riot-police gear from protests around the world.

This year, they’ve also opened their first annex, Mmuseumm 2, a 20-square-foot closet of space filled with more neat white shelves and the artifacts of Sara Berman, grandmother to one of the Mmuseumm’s co-founder’s. The pristine, neatly arrayed clothing and shoes in shades of white are meant to contrast vividly with the alley outside the Mm2’s door, juxtaposing a pursuit of perfection against the entropy of life.

If the Mmuseumm continues to expand, it will be in that manner, as tiny disconnected spaces, because the cramped quarters are party of the message. Alex Kalman, Josh Safdie and Ben Safdie, the Mmuseumm’s founders, say that the mission is “to allow people to look at the big through the small.”

For more information, visit Mmuseumm.

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