BY TESS McRAE
The summer is a great time for art-lovers. School is out and many art venues roll out new exhibits for the warmer weather. But sometimes, sitting inside a museum, can be a waste of a beautiful day.
Fortunately, sunbathing art aficionados can get the best of both worlds at Socrates Sculpture Park on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City. The waterside green space just rolled out five new pieces which will be on display through Aug. 30.
“The Living Pyramid,” the latest piece by New York City-based artist Agnes Denes, is a site-specific earthwork that spans 30 feet at its four-sided base and ascends 30 feet high. It was created from several tons of soil and planted grass.
“Very few artists can fulfill the moniker of ‘visionary’ and fewer still can match Agnes Denes in breadth, scope, outrageousness and perseverance,” the sculpture park says of the piece. “Her work is the product of a fiercely intellectual and distinctive study of semiotics, epistemology, mathematics, history and ecology, which are grounded in philosophical inquiry and social observation.”
Nearby is IK Studio’s Folly Program award-winning piece, “Torqueing Spheres.” The piece transforms a series of intertwining, sculpted forms into a meandering curved folly that encourages social interaction. IK Studio’s proposal was selected from 126 submissions from around the world.
The piece features eight plywood domes, ranging from adult to child-size that follow an undulating, diminishing line along the adjacent East River. The plywood is shaped by a particular cold-bending method, without the use of steam. Assembled into their domes, two properties emerge: sound reflected as echo, and movement of the panels from humidity and weather. As the wood’s fibers absorbed and lose moisture over different weather conditions, the bent panels are predefined to close and open in their particular directions.
Vera Lutter’s “Degas Horses” offers a different experience from its art brethren. The internationally acclaimed photographer created ghostly images of subjects that vary from urban centers to abandoned factories to ancient monuments. Like much of her work, “Degas Horses” was taken using a camera obscura – a centuries-old optical device that uses light entering through a small hole into a darkened chamber to slowly capture an image of its subjects.
Located at the main entrance of the park, “Degas Horses” is part of the Socrates Sculpture Park Broadway Billboard series.
Heide Fasnacht’s vision for her latest work “Suspect Terrain” was to detail the creation and aftermath of a sinkhole. In the piece, the particularities of fragmentation span 50 feet above ground and are detailed in painted plywood – a stand-in for the cement, asphalt and rock substrate that the sculpture maps.
Fasnacht’s surface was inspired by striking media coverage and documentation of massive sinkholes, including the 26-foot-wide by 52-foot-deep pit created in Shenzhen, China in 2013 and the hole in Guatemala City in 2010. By sculpturally depicting the devastating geological occurrences, Fasnacht turns the relationship between event and documentation into a personal and precarious action.
Artist Gabriela Albergaria’s work covers one territory: Nature. Through drawing, photography and sculpture the artist seeks to examine and deconstruct the cultural and social beliefs surrounding images of the natural. She builds on these concepts with “Two Trees in Balance” now on display at Socrates Sculpture Park, where she erected a 10-foot concrete wall adorned with two suspended trees. For Albergaria, the piece is “the moment where human and natural terrains intersect.”
As part of the installation, Albergaria meticulously reconstructed dozens of branches and tree stumps salvaged from across New York City into two trees, which she suspends diagonally off the ground from a steel cable. Each tree hovers in-between the wall and the earth, poised in a precarious state by their own equal weight.
But there is more than beautiful landscape and captivating art at Socrates Sculpture Park. Back by popular demand, in collaboration with Rooftop Films, the outdoor art space will present Outdoor Cinema, an eight-week international film festival to celebrate the cultural diversity of Queens.
The program invites visitors to picnic on the grass, see musical and dance performance, enjoy the cool waterfront breeze as the sun sets over the Manhattan skyline and watch exceptional films on an outdoor screen. Though the lineup has yet to be announced, film buffs can visit every Wednesday at 7 p.m., free of charge, beginning July 1.
Also coming up is the LIC Bike Parade. The day-long event on June 6, begins at the park at 11 a.m. where kids and adults can decorate their bikes with Socrates artists. The Department of Transportation will also be on-hand for free helmet fittings and distributions. Prior to the parade, which starts at 3 p.m., parents can upgrade their child’s bike at a bike swap.
The parade will begin at the Broadway entrance of the park and end at Queensbridge Park at 3:30 p.m., where there will be a waterfront celebration for all to participate in, free of charge.