Public Art: The Spotlight Series
Brandt, Wopo Holup, Tom Otterness,
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Carrie Mae Weems, and Janet Zweig
October 14, 2003 - December
The exhibition will be presented in
both the Edith Altschul Lehman wing
and the Robert Lehman wing of the gallery. This
exhibition is funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts.
Bronx Public Art: The Spotlight Series is the first
in a series of exhibitions featuring artists who have public art projects
in the Bronx. This exhibition of eight artists offers a chance to see
a selection of their other work and gives a sense of the context from
which the public projects developed. It includes installations, painting,
sculpture, textiles, prints, and photography.
Public Art in the Bronx on the World Wide Web, a comprehensive
web site developed by Lehman College Art Gallery, provides additional
background for the exhibition. With over 100 artists and projects ranging
from the 19th century, through the WPA era, to contemporary works, the
web site includes walking tours, lesson plans for teachers, as well as
Bronx neighborhood histories. The address is: http://bronxart.lehman.cuny.edu/pa
The exhibition includes three works by Vito Acconci
that predate his public art projects in the Bronx. Two lithographs from
1970, Kiss-Off and Trade Marks, document Acconci's performance
art and give a sense of the work from his early career. A lighted sculpture
based on furniture, Florescent Table and Two Chairs, 1991, not
only has a visual presence but is intended to provide seating as well.
These three works reflect the artists ongoing interest in the body.
Acconci has two projects in the Bronx Public Art collection, Untitled,
1995, in the plaza of P.S. 3, La Fontaine Middle School and Wall-Slide,
2002, at the MTA Yankee Stadium Station at 161st Street. Both of these
public art projects involve dramatic architectural illusions and dislocations.
In both, the forms also provide seating.
Helene Brandts public art work, Room
of Tranquillity, 1997-2002, an illusionistic mosaic on the wall of
the mezzanine, is also at the MTA Yankee Stadium Station at 161st St.
A former student of Martha Graham, Brandts welded steel sculpture
has also long been connected to the human body and movement. In a new
series included in this exhibition her "anthropomorphized geometry"
gives way to the organic forms of root systems and the arch of birds'
Wopo Holups installation in this exhibition is based on Common
Ground (currently under construction), Holup's major public art commission
as part of the reconstruction of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. Two granite
walls, each 16 feet high and 150 feet long, will depict the landscape
as strata. From the underground roots, grasses and trees, to the sky above
and galaxy beyond. The Grass Family(Gramineae), 2003, shown as
part of the Spotlight exhibition, is an installation of ink on
canvas digital prints that are based on the scanned images of the original
drawings Common Ground. Holup has two projects in the Bronx collection,
I-IV, 1989-90, an installation in IRT #1 elevated subway stations
at 231st, 225th, 215th, and 207th Streets and Intersections, 2003,
an installation along the walkway and plaza of Lehman College's new Communication
Tom Otterness is known for his playful cartoon-like figures whose
antics closely parallel human behavior. Suspended
Mind, 2002, created for the lobby of the Carl Sagan Discovery
Center at Montefiore Childrens Hospital, provides both an entertaining
art installation and a science lesson. Figures in this monumental installation
surround a Foucalts pendulum that sways with the rotation of the
earth. A second public work by Otterness, Doublefoot,
1993, sits at the edge of the Harlem River in Roberto Clemente State Park.
Otterness work in this exhibition include three sculptures, among
them a vignette from Hansel and Grettel and another, Rebellion
to Tyrants, a humorous look at money and power.
Faith Ringgold, well known for her painted quilts, has created
a large-scale quilt commemorating the life of teacher, philosopher, and
writer Eugenio Maria de Hostos for whom the college is named. Eugenio
Maria de Hostos: The Man, His Life and His Dream, 1994,is found in
the atrium of Hostos Community College/Allied Health building. In the
Spotlight exhibition Faith Ringgold is represented by Weeping
Woman #4, 1973-89, and two quilts including Tar Beach #2,
1990-92, with scenes from her popular children's book Tar Beach.
Carrie Mae Weems is a photographer and filmmaker whose work has
examined race, gender and class as well as issues of African American
identity. In the Lehman exhibition, four works represent her interests
over the past decade and include a recent work, After Manet from May
Days Long Forgotten, 2003. At Walton High School, her work Mind,
Health, Spirit, Body, 1999, has been translated into mosaics.
In 1969 Mierle Laderman Ukeles wrote the Manifesto for Maintenance
Art, a conceptual framework positing maintenance as art. In 1977 she
became an unpaid, official artist in residence with The New York City
Department of Sanitation. This exhibition includes documentation for a
number of her early works, among them Touch Sanitation Performance
(detail), 1977-80, in which she personally thanked each of the 8,500 sanitation
workers and The Social Mirror, 1983, a mirror covered garbage truck
that reflected the people of the City as it passed. For the firehouse
of Engine Company 75, Ukeles has created a design for the exterior wall,
2000, that commemorates the firefighters who have lost their lives.
Janet Zweig creates installations that display both humor and irony.
In one of the three installations that are a part of this exhibition,
Her Recursive Apology, 1993, Zweig programmed four computers to
choose apologies from a database and print them out day and night for
two weeks4,386,375 apologies on 8,000 sheets of computer paper.
For Walton High School Janet Zweig created an interactive public art work,
1998, in which student wishes and dreams, fears and complaints were dropped
into bronze boxes inspired by wishing wells and suggestion boxes.