A Public Park turned “Museum Without Walls”*
Madison Square Park is known as “the museum without walls,” and rightfully so as the name is a product of the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s stellar contemporary art program,MAD. SQ. ART. The Conservancy is a private/public/ non-profit organization that partners with the NYC parks department to raise capital for park maintenance. The extensive contemporary art program fills the park with regular outdoor exhibits extending an ephemeral quality to the public space, enticing visitors – local and afar – to return regularly for art in the park.
On May 1, 2013, Madison Square Park debuted its inaugural, traveling exhibition, Red, Yellow, and Blue by Brooklyn artist, Orly Genger. Genger’s crew of assistants knitted, knotted, and painted in primary hues over one million feet of orphaned, nautical rope. The woven repurposed masterpiece, which was once stinky seaward garbage, represents an exquisite example of public art among the business and bustle of New York City’s Flatiron District.
Genger’s work represents the renaissance of traditional craft transformed into modern art at an epic scale. The repurposed material, formerly juxtaposed in the salty sea among tides and currents, creates a menagerie of marine twine twisting through Madison Square Park, remodeling the space into canyons and underwater landforms that appeal to the senses through vibrant color, and texture. The trees soar above the forms creating a fantastic play on scale and proportion while the green grass knits itself into contrasting patterns that complement the primary colors.
Red, Yellow, and Blue is abundant with polarities that merit individual discussion such as, feminine vs. masculine, domestic art vs. fine art, large scale vs. small scale, ocean vs. land, push vs. pull, man vs. nature, and craft vs. contemporary. There are likely many more; and each one deserves analysis as it pertains to contemporary art on the canvas of land and how public art connects people to spaces.
The sculpted bajada of thoughtful handwork is not static. Red, Yellow, and Blue will be untied from the cleats of Madison Square Park in September and set sail for Boston just in time for the 2013 ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO. Ground yourself in this summer space of seaside rope soaked in brilliant paint, formed into a soothing canyon of art within a public space, or wait until the fall, where you might be lucky and experience this sculpture in another outdoor gallery powdered with snow.
Although I will not be visiting this installation in person, it has certainly inspired me through photos. I can only imagine what it must be like to physically stumble upon these rolling waves in the middle of a park where art is free for all – the result of a delightful product of designed space, partnership, and programming. Here is interview by ARTINFO with the artist, Orly Genger: