Public art has always been a part of New York’s culture, but newly passed legislation by the city’s mayor, Bill De Blasio, that allocates an unprecedented amount of money to the arts, should help guarantee more widespread access to playful art exhibits like the newly installed “Please Touch the Art” in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Interact Publicly with the Art in New York City
Danish artist Jeppe Hein’s multiple creations appear throughout the park in the three very different bodies of work installed and presented by the Public Art Fund and curated by Nicholas Baume. Hein’s forms vary, but all are designed with the intent of “public interaction.”
Sprinkled throughout the park it’s impossible to miss his 16 Modified Social Benches.
In a shade of electric orange, the benches challenge the idea of what a park bench is, as the benches wind, twist, loop and bend in ways that make it sometimes challenging to sit on traditionally.
Children are naturally attracted to both the color and the shapes, with some of the benches seemingly more modern jungle gym than bench.
I came upon some French tourists who were working to make sure they’d sat on each of the pieces (they looked a bit awkward sitting in the one I saw them on) but it was good for a laugh and a comical photo. One of the benches is created around a tree, and it feels as if it’s a natural extension of the tree itself despite the bright color.
Find Yourself In It
The second piece is Mirror Labyrinth NY, a name literally describing what it is. Made out of “mirror-polished stainless steel,” vertical strips of varying heights are spaced out evenly in circular-labyrinth fashion, allowing those who enter it to have a peculiar feeling of getting momentarily lost in the landscape reflecting from both sides. Whether it’s capturing the Manhattan skyline across the river, those heading through it, or a golden sunset, both children and adults were enjoying taking it in, as well as taking plenty of pictures.
Soak It In
The third installation, located very close to Pier 1, is called, Appearing Rooms. Perfect for the warmer weather, this exhibit takes place on a giant platform in which constantly changing “rooms” are formed as water jets spout up high over people’s heads. The amusement comes from trying to move from “room to room” as they form and re-form while trying not to get wet. (Or, if the weather is warm enough, while trying to get wet.) From the rooms, you’ll experience a wonderful view of the city, as well as the Brooklyn Bridge.
If you’re walking through the park with children, you can bring a “print at home” (printable off the Public Art website) scavenger hunt map. If the weather is good, you may want to start at the end of the exhibit site opposite Appearing Rooms and save that for last knowing the kids will want to soak it in, literally. The exhibit runs through April 2016.