High Art

Written by Our Town Downtown on . Posted in Arts & Film, Museums, Our Town Downtown.

The High Line adds public art to its neighborhood offerings

By Lonnie Firestone

A great city is often marked by its confluence of architecture and nature. A century and a half ago in Manhattan, that combination created Central Park; today’s incarnation is The High Line, running from Gansevoort to West 34th Street near the West Side Highway. The ratio of beams to botany may be skewed toward to the urban end, but The High Line nonetheless offers city dwellers a bit of nature, earth and plant life, even high above ground.

And like Central Park, which has been a vast backdrop for the visual arts (perhaps most memorably with Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s The Gates in 2005), The High Line offers its own canvas of sorts: a 25-by-75-foot billboard positioned at 18th Street and 10th Avenue. High Line Billboard is the latest initiative from High Line Art, which commissions public art projects and installations from local and international artists for the park.

On display from Feb. 1–29 is “Developing Tray #2” by New York artist Anne Collier, a massive-scale photograph depicting a print of an open eye inside a developing tray. The image is at once a finished work of art and a depiction of art in progress.

The effect of an open eye (the artist’s own) staring at the viewer is particularly arresting given its immense proportions. “It is confrontational, sensual and voyeuristic at the same time,” said Cecilia Alemani, the Donald R. Mullen Jr. curator and director of High Line Art.

For the artist, displaying her work on a New York City billboard is a milestone in itself. “The street in New York is full of distractions—it’s chaotic,” Collier said. “I hope that [my work] might interrupt someone’s expectation of what might typically be seen on a billboard.”

If the High Line is the convergence of architecture and nature in Manhattan, the High Line Billboard is the convergence of street art and gallery space. For painters, photographers and mixed media artists, the opportunity to display their work on such a grand canvas amidst the steel of the rail lines and the city streets offers wider visibility than an exhibition at The Whitney—and perhaps comparable recognition.

High Line Art, jointly presented by Friends of the High Line and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, was founded in 2009 with the goal of enabling artists “to think of creative ways to engage with the uniqueness of the architecture and design of the High Line.” High Line founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond had aspirations early on for the historic rail line to become an arena for artists, and the breadth of High Line Art today (which now also oversees a projection screen for silent films) has become a draw to the landmark site.

High Line Art has presented sound installations, sculptures, experimental films, paintings—even dance performances. The previous commission for the High Line Billboard was a gigantic representation of a $100,000 bill, created by John Baldessari, entitled, “The First $100,000 I Ever Made.”

Art in the public sphere lends itself to a different kind of reception and a different viewer relationship than art in galleries or museums; the environment of buildings, bridges, cars and crowds contributes to the viewer’s experience. “I’m interested to see how the image operates against the visual backdrop of the city,” said Collier.

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High Art

Written by None - Do not Delete on . Posted in Breaking News, Posts.

By reading this, you’re agreeing not to sue me if a security figure hassles you for following what I’ll soon suggest. Intoxication means breaking rules. Especially when getting blotto at the Brooklyn Museum.

The first Saturday of every month, the world-class arts institution (don’t scoff, Met snob) hosts its creatively named First Saturday party. The all-evening jamboree offers free movies, workshops, admission and the centerpiece, a two-hour dance soiree. It’s an easy sell, attracting blacks, whites, lesbians, geriatrics, Asians and infants who make the party more diverse than a rush-hour 7 train, and in far higher spirits.

Thank the booze, buckaroos. To accomplish such artful mind-erasing, open your wallets and trundle to the third floor’s colossal Beaux-Arts Court, which is ringed by classical paintings. The ceiling is as high as field-goal posts, and the glass-block dance floor is as precarious as petting a porcupine.

“You couldn’t pay me to do the Macarena on that thing,” an architect acquaintance once warned of the floor’s structural integrity. But worries are washed away with a trip to the makeshift bars offering Brooklyn Lager ($5) and blasé wines ($5), poured into plastic cups.

“It’s dorm-room drinking,” says a friend one recent Saturday evening, draining a brew in one gulp. “Woo-hoo,” my friend adds, halfheartedly wiggling his rump to the hip-hop DJs. “Now pass me the flask.”

Ahh, now we’re arriving at our juicy destination. I appreciate the Brooklyn Museum opening its collections to after-hours revelers, and I’m even more grateful for the entertainment (ranging from waltz bands to Brazilian-obsessed turntablists to April’s sound merchant, femme DJ JD Samson—she spun for ecstatic lesbians who danced enthusiastically, and mostly ironically, to “It’s Raining Men”). However, to properly shimmy, one must be tipsy. You need rapid-fire First Saturday intoxication. You need to break the law. You need to do this…

The first option is pre-partying. That is, drinking prior to the affair. This is low-cost, and fosters camaraderie among fellow celebrants. It’s also preschool simple. So you must be more duplicitous, and even shady. Regress to your teenage era. Do you enjoy boozing nowadays like you did when breaking into Daddy’s liquor cabinet and siphoning off Scotch?

Of course not. After age 21, drinking is too easy, and too costly. Sadly, the shifty, time-honored tradition of sneaking in beers won’t work at the Brooklyn Museum, even if you bring museum-appropriate Brooklyn Lager. Bottles are verboten, and cracking open a longneck in public is problematic.

“Hey, what are you doing?” a security guard once asked, catching me topping off my plastic glass (“borrowed” from the drinks stand).

“Oh, they just handed me the bottle and told me to do it myself,” I answered with three-beer confidence.


“Oh, yes.” I handed him said bottle and dashed to the dance floor, where I spun around like a stuck pig.

However, my suaveness doesn’t grow on trees. If you’re of meeker constitution, please take the low-risk route. Buy a plastic Aquafina water bottle, glug it down and refill it with your favorite clear intoxicant. I recommend Giorgi vodka, paired with Key Food tonic water. Squeeze in a spritz of lime, cap off and sneak the bottle past clueless guards.

Now enjoy art the way it was intended: Shit-faced, slurring words and with an unhealthy appreciation of nude statues.

Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway (at Washington Ave.), Prospect Heights, B’klyn, 718-638-5000