Sunday, July 24, 2011

Socrates Sculpture Park

Socrates Sculpture Park
9/25/2010, Saturday
MUSEUM: Socrates Sculpture Park (30 min) …………..………. Free

Gold Rush, Rachel Beach 2010
With nearly 200 museums in New York City, it seems odd that there are very few sculpture gardens.  This gap in the museum line up is probably to to the city's sky high real-estate prices, but today we saw a sculpture park that found a way around that problem.  This park is called the Socrates Sculpture Park and it's located on the banks of the East River on land that was once an illegal dumpsite and polluted eyesore.  However in 1969 a coalition of artists and community members under the leadership of sculptor Mark di Suvero bought the land (probably very cheaply) and transformed it into an outdoor exhibition space for large contemporary sculpture.  Now this previous wasteland has walking paths, an artist in residency program, a public vegetable garden, farmers market and a free outdoor movie series in the summer.  It’s frequently referenced as a model of urban reclamation and revitalization.  
Untitled Frank Haines
The Socrates Sculpture Park is across the street from the excellent Noguchi Museum (exhibiting the work of the famous modern sculptor Isamu Noguchi) and the two make a good pairing if you have them time.  Despite the name, the Socrates park is much less high-brow than the Noguchi Museum and has a slightly scruffy air.  You can still see the rotting docks and rusty cranes perched on its perimeter left over from its industrial past, yet the park is well tended and there is a wide variety of sculpture to see. 
Sponge Piece for Socrates Jory Rabinovitz
Paul and I both agreed that the most beautiful thing in the park was the view of the Manhattan skyline across the river (see image below), and one sculpture thoughtfully provided a telescope to view it better, but there was a lot to see in the park as well.  I was amused by the stack of colorful sponges stacked up like they were on a flag pole (“Sponge Piece for Socrates” by Jory Rabinovitz), while Paul liked the black and yellow contrasts of “Gold Rush” by Rachel Beach and the talking rock “Megafaux” by Clive Murphy.  We didn’t like everything (the crumbling floating house failed to impress) but there was certainly a lot of variety and it made for an entertaining walk.
Pauline: 3 out of 10.  Wide variety of contemporary sculpture in a riverfront park.
Paul: 3 out of 10.  Nice walk in the park is not ruined by the art.

View of the East River from Socrates Sculpture Garden
Images in this post, from the top:  Socrates Sculpture Garden, with Megafaux by Clive Murphy (2010) in foreground and the New York City skyline in the background.  Gold Rush Rachel Beach 2010, reclaimed wood beams and powder covered aluminum.  Untitled, Frank Haines 2010 mixed media.  Sponge Piece for Socrates, Jory Rabinovitz 2010, sponges, concrete and metal.  View of the East River and New York City skyline from the Socrates Sculpture Garden.

1 comment:

  1. What a great idea and use for what used to be an illegal dumpsite. The industrial feel to it is pretty great too. Ooh and the sponges is really neat. Definitely somewhere to visit if I ever make it to New York. Maybe one day one of my sculptures will be there :)