5 Outdoor Art Exhibitions to Check Out in New York This Summer – WWD

Phyllida Barlow’s “Prank” at City Hall Park

Public Art Fund welcomed the start of summer by bringing seven sculptures by the late artist Phyllida Barlow to City Hall Park. The exhibition, “Prank,” includes unexpected arrangements of familiar domestic items — chairs, a piano, an ironing board — accompanied by Barlow’s signature “bunny ears,” a playful, cartoonish form that rests atop and extends from the sculptures.

Nicholas Galanin: In every language there is Land / En cada lengua hay una Tierra at Brooklyn Bridge Park

The Public Art Fund’s other summer 2023 commission is situated on the Empire Fulton Ferry Lawn at Brooklyn Bridge Park. “In every language there is Land” marks the Indigenous artist’s first public artwork in New York City. The 30-foot steel sculpture references the U.S.-Mexico border — it was constructed using the same materials at a similar scale to the existing border wall — and spells out “Land,” in the style of Robert Indiana’s iconic “Love” sculpture. The sculpture, up through fall 2023, will be accompanied by public arts programming throughout the summer.

Nicholas Galanin: In every
language there is Land / En
cada lengua hay una Tierra

Nicholas Galanin: In every language there is Land / En cada lengua hay una Tierra


“Old Tree” at the High Line

In addition to the recently opened Moynihan Train Hall Connector, which extends the High Line one block east on 30th Street, in early May the elevated public park unveiled a large hot pink tree sculpture next to Hudson Yards. The sculpture, part of the Highline’s “Plinth” commission series, is the work of Swiss artist Pamela Rosenkranz. The highly visible piece, with branches and roots extending from its central trunk, evokes the internal human body and the connection between people and planet. “Whether experienced up close or seen at a distance, Old Tree serves as a beacon of possibility and renewal,” said High Line executive director Alan van Capelle in a statement revealing the piece in early May. Also: hot pink is all the rage this summer.

Mary Mattingly’s “Ebb of a Spring Tide” at Socrates Sculpture Park

The centerpiece of the New York-based artists exhibition of new work at the Long Island City outdoor museum is the 65-foot sculpture “Water Clock.” The “living” scaffolded structure — resonant of the city’s constant construction — houses edible vegetation and reflects the outline of the Manhattan skyline. Water from the East River flows through tubing within the structure, commentary on the city’s precarious relationship with the sea level. A second sculpture, “Flock House,” functions as a dwelling for plants and visitors alike.

“Water Clock,” 2023. Steel, vessels, found materials, East River water, and salt-tolerant, edible plants

Image by Scott Lynch

Ebony G. Patterson’s “…things come to thrive…in the shedding…in the molting…” at New York Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical Garden is presenting a major exhibition of site-specific sculptural and horticultural works by Jamaican-born contemporary artist Ebony G. Patterson. The artist’s work, informed by flora and fauna, is situated across the garden’s outdoor landscape and indoor galleries. Selected works include bird sculptures — vultures on the lawn, a peacock inside the Garden’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory — as well as glass plants, paintings, mixed media works and a video installation.

Describing the exhibition, Patterson noted that the intervention was an opportunity to explore “the generative life cycles that sustain the entire ecosystem. The plants and animals that clean, regenerate and consume as an act of care are necessary for the survival of the entire ecosystem. This reality of the garden is often not highlighted and celebrated, an experience that is paralleled in many areas of society and a tension at the heart of my practice overall.”

“Things Come to Thrive,” Ebony G. Patterson.


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