Public Art, Oh My!

A visit to Governors Island this summer will offer up a healthy dose of new public art! The Trust announced  that works by Mark Handforth and Susan Philipsz, the two inaugural artists of the new Governors Island public art program Art CommissionsGI, will be on view to the public beginning on May 24th.

Leslie Koch, President of the Trust, said of the new program, “Art CommissionsGI builds on the Island’s reputation as a place that welcomes all forms of artistic expression to be enjoyed by New Yorkers.” Art CommisionsGI, curated by Tom Eccles the Executive Director of Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies, aims to select artists whose work respond to the Island’s unique vantage point on the Harbor and Statue of Liberty, its landmark and newly designed landscapes, its chapters of history and its nascent democratic culture.

"Painted Phone" by Mark Handforth. Image courtesy of the Trust.

“Painted Phone” by Mark Handforth. Image courtesy of the Trust.


Mark Handforth’s playful exhibition, titled “Sidewalk Island”, beautifully situates the artists work in the landscape of Governors Island and its new park and public spaces. Handforth’s trademark manipulation and distortion of street-level and everyday items are seen in the four totem-like works he created for Governors Island.

 “Painted Phone,” the focal point of the exhibition, is placed at the entrance of the 30 acres of new park.  A thirty feet tall bronze tree with lopped off limbs cradles a blue phone in the v-shape of its branches, as if casually holding a cigar in its fingers. The anthropomorphic phone mimics the regalness and verticality of Lady Liberty in the distance, while the vivid blue of the phone blends into the skies above.

"Saffron Star" by Mark Handforth. Image by Tim Schenck, courtesy of the Trust.

“Saffron Star” by Mark Handforth. Image by Tim Schenck, courtesy of the Trust.


Susan Philipsz looks to the military history of Governors Island for inspiration. Her piece titled, “Day is Done,” is a large-scale instrumental ‘call and response’ sound installation that spans the new park at Liggett Terrace and Yankee Pier. The work takes the four notes that make up the military bugle call Taps  and seperates them into two groups of four speakers located in Liggett Terrace and Yankee Pier. The speakers call out to each other across the Island and become recognizable depending on where the listener stands.

The work is played every day at 6pm. Setting the work against the evening is both a reminder that ‘day is done’ and that it’s time to leave, but also adds an element of melancholy to the work as it can be experienced both on the Island and from the ferry leaving the Island behind.

Turner Prize Winner Susan Philipsz Awarded Commission for Permanent Piece on Governors Island

This bridge over the River Clyde in Scotland was the site of “Lowlands”, a sound installation by Philipsz (photo from
Turner Prize winning artist Susan Philipsz has been selected to create a piece of permanent public art on Governors Island. Philipsz was chosen by The Trust through the City’s Percent for Art Program. Percent for Art is a commissioning program that integrates permanent works of art into publicly funded capital projects through an equitable artist selection process. Philipsz’s commission will be the first work in an ongoing public art program opening with the new park and public spaces in 2013.
Philipsz was born in Glasgow, Scotland and currently works and lives in Berlin.  She was recognized in 2010 with the prestigious Turner Prize, a contemporary art award that is given annually to a British artist under 50 for an outstanding work or exhibition. Her work has appeared at the Melbourne International Biennale, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and on Governors Island as a part of Creative Time’s “Plot 09: This World and Nearer Ones” exhibition in 2009. While many of her installations have been temporary in nature, her work here will be permanent and will be sited in the future park and public spaces that are included in phase 1 of the Park and Public Space Master Plan. Philipsz’s work will be completed in 2013 and she has not yet selected site(s) for her work.
Philipsz’s piece is the first in a new commissioning program on the Island that will be curated by Tom Eccles.

New York dads (among others) ferry out to Governors Island

TIis past weekend a gang on nine dads took their children IMG_5894out to Governors Island, and we could not be more please that they have discovered the Island as a great free place to bring their kids and relax. And one of the guys put it: “The moment you ship out, you’re docking. You could hit the island with a rock but you won’t find a place more different from Manhattan.” And he’s right! Though Governors Island is so close to both Manhattan and Brooklyn it couldn’t be more different from either.

This past Friday, Governors Island was also host the a bunch of other visitors. This group of Picnic Point 083women had a blast with their free bikes (Bike and Roll rents bikes for free for one hour every Friday!). They where in the process of traveling around checking out all of the different Creative Time exhibits. They are pictured down on Picnic Point listening to the Susan Philipsz piece. Our maps located around the Island list all of the Creative Time art exhibits on the Island, the food vendors, FIGMENT*’s City of Dreams, and all of the other on-going events on Governors Island. They were just about to jump on their bikes again and head over to mini golf designed by FIGMENT*.Picnic Point 090

This group of people were enjoying our recently added swings. The views are amazing, and visitors has a great time swinging with a view of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Jersey City directly in front of them. Every fifteen minutes or so a large Staten Island Ferry passes by, along with barges, sailboats, and all types of sea-fairing vessels. The view was so good that this group below (even though thew are New Yorkers) took a family photo in front of the Statue of Liberty.Picnic Point 106

Come out this Friday, Saturday and Sunday to enjoy the summer.


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