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Reading the Streets

Reading the Streets: Chris Stain and Billy Mode

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Written by ILANA NOVICK, Auction Central News International   
Thursday, 26 March 2015 14:27
Chris Stain and Billy Mode, Bushwick Collective, Brooklyn, N.Y. Photo by Ilana Novick.

NEW YORK – The wall says, “Invent the future,” and despite the striking letters, gray shot through with swirls of orange and yellow, demanding respect and attention, the petulant teenager inside me answered, “You got a manual?”

I calmed down once I noticed the girl in the blue shirt with her hands formed into a heart shape over her friend, both girls starting fiercely ahead, as if daring me to drop the act, and embrace their message.

The 28-by-57-foot wall beckons passerby on the corner of Troutman and Wyckoff in Bushwick. Longtime collaborators Chris Stain and Billy Mode created the mural for the Bushwick Collective.

According to a 2013 interview with the artists in Time Out New York, Stain and Mode based it on a photo they took of two girls in front of another mural the two artists collaborated on in Albany, N.Y. In this mural the girls are a small field of green and purple flowers, outlined in black, like the plant version of the girls above them, color emerging from the concrete below.

To the left of the words is a boy on a bicycle, staring at, and, I’d like to think, drawing inspiration from the girls, inventing his own future.

The girls are smiling too; maybe because they’ve already gotten started.

Take the L Train to Jefferson Street if you want to catch up with them.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE
Chris Stain and Billy Mode, Bushwick Collective, Brooklyn, N.Y. Photo by Ilana Novick. Chris Stain and Billy Mode, Bushwick Collective, Brooklyn, N.Y. Photo by Ilana Novick. Chris Stain and Billy Mode, Bushwick Collective, Brooklyn, N.Y. Photo by Ilana Novick.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 March 2015 14:46
 

Reading the Streets: NYC gets 'tanked'

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Written by ILANA NOVICK, Auction Central News International   
Friday, 13 March 2015 10:25
Laurie Simmons, The Water Tank Project, New York City. Photo by Mary Jordan NEW YORK - It all started with a stomach virus. For many of us, it means “a day spent screaming pleas to every conceivable deity for mercy and the ability to once again swallow.” For filmmaker Mary Jordan, a water-borne illness she suffered while filming a documentary in Ethiopia was the catalyst for the Water Tank Project, a public art installation and awareness campaign that uses my favorite part of the New York skyline as a canvas for both art and awareness of the worldwide clean-water crisis.

According to the United Nation’s Department of Social and Economic Affairs, 1.2 billion people, nearly one-fifth of the world's population, live in water-scarce areas while 1.6 billion people face economic water shortage—this includes the Ethiopian women who nursed Jordan back to health. After she was better, Jordan asked what she could do to repay them. The only thing the women wanted in return from her was awareness.

Back in New York, Jordan repaid these women through starting Word Above the Street (soon to be renamed Water Above All), the organization behind the Water Tank Project. Word Above the Street uses the iconic water tower, my favorite part of the New York City skyline, to draw attention to the crisis, with works from artists like Jeff Koons, Bruce Weber and Marilyn Minter, among many others.

It’s not all big names and cute animals, though. In collaboration with Studio in a School, the Water Tank Project sponsored a contest for high school students whose winners will show their work high above the city. In late March, a new website will also feature a curriculum for middle and high school teachers to raise awareness of the water crisis among their students.

With an estimated 12,000-17,000 water tanks in the city, the search for sites was extensive, beginning with a ride on “Mary’s Vespa,” remembers curator and Project Manager Mitra Khorasheh. Once they located the tanks, convincing the building owners to participate was relatively easy, as the organizers had already secured permission from the Department of Buildings. To protect the water, each painting, drawing, or photograph, is printed on a vinyl canvas, which is then installed by wrapping the piece around the water tower “like a corset.”

I first spotted Marilyn Minter’s piece in the Financial District. A drenched woman emerges from what looks like the most refreshing pool on earth, a smooth arc of water tumbling from her lips. The water droplets frame her like spotlights. Lacking pool access, I was ready to find the nearest sprinkler and run through it to capture even a moment of that excitement, until I realized 30-year-old women frolicking in children’s parks aren’t a common sight, and also there’s still ice on the ground.

I like to imagine a conversation between Minter’s exuberant woman and Laurie Simmons’ underwater doll, swimming above Horatio Street in a red bikini. I can’t tell if she’s unconscious or simply serene, but I know there’s a story behind those doll eyes. That’s what I love about these artists’ subjects; they could be statues or dolls, but somehow, the smallest expression or glance makes me believe there are secrets in their smirks.

If you’re all maxed out on imaginary conversations, and would prefer more tangible proof of personality and/or adorable dogs, take the 4 or 5 to Union Square for Bruce Weber’s “Palomino Takes a Wave,” which features the photographer’s late golden retriever, paw on the world’s smallest, cutest surfboard, intently focused while riding a wave. If enough people see this one, I predict dog surfing as the next Internet video trend.

Find the map and plan your tour of towers by visiting the Water Tank Project at http://www.thewatertankproject.org/ and keep an eye out for their new site launching in late March. And don’t forget to look up!

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ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE
Laurie Simmons, The Water Tank Project, New York City. Photo by Mary Jordan Bruce Weber, The Water Tank Project, New York City. Photo via https://paddle8.com/work/bruce-weber/35594-palomino-catching-a-wave-golden-beach-fl Eteri Chkadua, The Water Tank Project, New York City. Photo by Brook Christopher Marilyn Minter, The Water Tank Project, New York City. Photo by Brook Christopher
Last Updated on Friday, 13 March 2015 10:32
 

Reading the Streets: Jim Rennert's 'Think Big'

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Written by ILANA NOVICK, Auction Central News International   
Tuesday, 03 March 2015 10:38

Jim Rennert, ‘Think Big,’ Union Square Park, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

NEW YORK – A stone-faced businessman stands at the southeast corner of Union Square Park, staring up at the sky, looking for … inspiration? Relief? Solace? A reminder of what heat is and how we will one day feel it again? Jim Rennert’s Think Big is a 12-foot-tall sculptural Rorschach test for viewers’ emotional state.

Perhaps if you’re feeling inspired and productive, you’ll agree with the Parks Department, that the man reminds us “that if we ‘think big’ we can attain anything.” Maybe you’re struggling with a deadline and believe the statue is secretly asking the sky, “why me?” The man could be rejoicing in the power of the American Dream, or bemoaning his place in a corporate machine.

I was on the side of weariness, until I dug a little deeper into the sculpture’s history. Before its current residency in Union Square, a partnership between the Union Square Partnership Business Improvement District and the Parks Department, Think Big started at 2 inches tall, which even I have to admit gets a point for positive thinking in this debate.

Come decide for yourself through May 4.

 



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

Jim Rennert, ‘Think Big,’ Union Square Park, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.  

Jim Rennert, ‘Think Big,’ Union Square Park, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick. 

Jim Rennert, ‘Think Big,’ Union Square Park, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick. 

Jim Rennert, ‘Think Big,’ Union Square Park, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick. 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 March 2015 10:52
 

Reading the Streets: 'Solar Reserve' by John Gerrard

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Written by ILANA NOVICK, Auction Central News International   
Thursday, 04 December 2014 13:54
‘Solar Reserve’ by John Gerrard, New York City. Photo via publicartfund.org

NEW YORK – If New York City in the winter is getting you down, consider a trip to the Nevada desert. Can't afford the airfare? No worries, it's accessible by the one train. Well, not the Nevada desert but “Solar Reserve,” a new installation in the Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center by John Gerrard.

“Solar Reserve” is a digital simulation of a Nevada solar thermal power plant, and its accompanying desert landscape, all projected on a 28-foot-by-24-foot LED screen. Watch the screen and you can see the movements of the moon, sun and the 10,000 mirrors that make up the power plant, over a 24-hour period, sunrise to sunset.

Come at 10 p.m. and “Solar Reserve” looks like a satellite image of a distant planet, impressive, like Mars through a telescope, but remote. Your imagination does most of the work of shaping the circles of light into something tangible. Visit a little earlier and it’s a completely different story; you can see the plant itself, glowing like a lighthouse in a sea of black sand.

Come back a few hours later when the sun is up, and you can see sweeping desert landscapes, with mountains just over the horizon. It feels close enough to touch. At one point I thought I was seeing a rare form of shiny, square-shaped flowers but it turned out to be a field of mirrors that help capture the solar energy.

No matter what time of day you show up, it’s a different light show every time. Not bad for a subway ride.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE
‘Solar Reserve’ by John Gerrard, New York City. Photo via publicartfund.org ‘Solar Reserve’ by John Gerrard, New York City. Photo via wnyc.org\ story/nevada-solar-tower-comes-lincoln-center/ ‘Solar Reserve’ by John Gerrard, New York City. Photo via wnyc.org\ story/nevada-solar-tower-comes-lincoln-center/ ‘Solar Reserve’ by John Gerrard, New York City. Photo via lincolncenter.org
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 December 2014 14:18
 

Reading the Streets: Centre-Fuge Public Art Project

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Written by ILANA NOVICK, Auction Central News International   
Monday, 01 December 2014 15:20
Mr. Prvrt at Centre-Fuge Public Art Project, New York. Photo by Ilana Novick

NEW YORK – East First Street between First Avenue and Essex has been plagued by construction for most of 2014, which makes the Centre-Fuge Public Art Project even more of a welcome blast of color. The colorful MTA trailer gives artists much needed legal space and neighborhood residents a welcome blast of color to drown out the reality of plywood and orange cones.

It was Mr. Prvrt’s gray and black raccoon on the North Side of the trailer that hooked me. Putting aside the 14-year-old boy inside me that giggled at the idea of an artist named Mr. Prvrt painting a beaver, this creature was undeniably adorable, with its little paws clasped together and longing blue eyes. I wanted to give it a cookie.

The panel next door by Marthalicia Mattarita features the face of a baby with what is either purple octopus arms growing out of its head, or just a hat I need to buy immediately.

Speaking of hair related inspiration, there’s a piece by Australian artist Vexta, a woman standing against a gray background, whose hair, messy and brushed to the side, dissolves from the roots into a group of birds. It made me want to ask for her hairdresser’s number, because mine never does that when it’s messy.

Centre-Fuge will be on East First Street between First Avenue and Essex Street through 2015.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE
Mr. Prvrt at Centre-Fuge Public Art Project, New York. Photo by Ilana Novick Vexta at Centre-Fuge Public Art Project, New York. Photo by Ilana Novick Dasic Fernandez at Centre-Fuge Public Art Project, New York. Photo by Ilana Novick Marthalicia Mattarita at Centre-Fuge Public Art Project, New York. Photo by Ilana Novick
Last Updated on Monday, 01 December 2014 15:40
 
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