Art Committee field trips
Updated: Dec 11, 2018
From April through September 2018 members of the Robert Fulton Houses Tenant Art Committee participated in a series of field trips to see and learn about art in New York City. Ranging from museum visits to conversations about how to commission public art, the field trips offered Fulton residents access and insight into many of the cultural resources in their own neighborhood.
The Rubin Museum
The Art Committee’s journey began just a few blocks from Fulton Houses as they mindfully made their way to The Rubin Museum for Slow Art Day on April 14th. With the help of expert docent Janet Abraham, tenants took the time to pause, look, and reflect upon the feelings and thoughts each artwork prompted for each one of them. Moving slowly through the museum and spending about 20 minutes at each object or installation, like Candy Chang’s A Monument for the Anxious and Hopeful, the group had time to share personal stories and connect with each other.
After the tour, the committee sat down with Jane Hsu, Head of Interpretation and Engagement to learn about accessible museum programs. Jane also instigated a conversation around community values which helped the Art Committee articulate their vision for commissioning public art at Fulton. The tour at The Rubin was a great introduction to the many ways that art can be experienced in NYC.
BONUS POINT: the museum cafe is a stellar spot for chocolate chip cookies!
The Whitney Museum
In early August the Art Committee participated in a unique tour of The Whitney Museum lead by educator, Jano Provinciano. Jano’s tour turned a lens to how art relates with its surrounding environment. The committee explored how Louise Lawler’s vinyl tracing of her 1992 work, Salon Hodler, fit into the museum’s eighth-floor cafe and how it’s representation of 19th century art + furniture altered the modern design of the cafe itself.
Of particular interest was a painted steel sculpture by Alexander Calder on view in the 7th floor outdoor gallery. In addition to commenting on the sculpture’s relationship to museum architecture and the buildings of New York City, Art Committee members were stunned to hear its title, The Cock's Comb, suggesting a connection to roosters. Through discussing the work, individuals began to gain insight into Calder’s language of abstraction - honing in on how the artist exaggerates or abstracts select parts of his subjects. By the end of the tour, the poetics of modern and contemporary art began to reveal itself to the group.
The day at The Whitney was a turning point in the Art Committee's exploration as Fulton residents began to think more broadly about the kind of art they will bring to their community.
Percent for Art
On a hot and balmy day at the tail end of August the Art Committee made its way down to 31 Chambers Street to meet with the city’s Percent for Art Program. After getting an overview of the 350 permanent public artworks that the organization has placed in all five boroughs, the Percent for Art team gave shared information about the logistics of their massive commissioning initiative.
Have you ever thought about what it takes to actually install a large piece of public art into an NYC neighborhood? It doesn’t only take ideas, it takes support from community representatives and boards, engineering and fabrication from laborers and skilled workers, and ultimately a lot of money!
One public sculpture that the Art Committee found particularly intriguing was Milo Mottola’s, The Totally Kid Carousel, installed in Riverbank State Park in 1991. The carousel’s creatures resemble fantastical visions designed by youth. You can still find the carousel running in Hamilton Heights… go catch a ride!
Our final field trip of the season took place just a few steps from the Art Connects office in the plazas of Garment District NYC. We visited with Jerry Scupp, Vice President of The Garment District Alliance, to learn how the organization commissions and places public art at the very busy intersection of Broadway and 38th street.
On view was Rebirth, an installation by Taiwanese sculptor Kang Muxiang. Kang’s monumental sculptures are made out of recycled elevator cables, which on first glance, seem to mimic the twists of plied yarn that once pervaded the garment factories of this historic district. The Art Committee was particularly interested in the way this formal quality connected to the artwork to the history of the neighborhood even though its main theme pertains to the cycles of life.
This final group art encounter rounded out the Art Committee’s knowledge of public art, the commissioning process, and the possibility for abstract interpretations. We can’t wait to see what they will commission for the public spaces at Fulton Houses!!