In addition to the seasonal displays of summer begonias and fall chrysanthemums, The Fund for Park Avenue and its Sculpture Committee are thrilled to announce the simultaneous exhibitions of works by Willie Cole, Raul Mourão and Sophia Vari on Park Avenue. Presented in conjunction with NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks Program and the related galleries, all seventeen pieces can be seen together on the avenue through November 5th, 2023 between 53rd & 70th Streets.
Willie Cole will install 4 large-scale chandeliers made of thousands of plastic water bottles on the medians of Park Avenue at 69th and 70th Streets. These monumental sculptures are titled 3000 Buddha Chandelier, Liberty Lantern, Soul Catcher and Dirt Devil of 2023.
The artist’s assemblages of found objects, such as irons, bicycles, water bottles, and shoes, offer a compelling commentary on gender, consumerism and African- American identity. Cycles – of water, of carbon, and of energy – have long been a critical concern to the artist. In the works on Park Avenue, Cole locates an intimacy between water bottles and cells; both consist of a modular unit that becomes a whole through repetition.
Willie Cole has been the subject of several one-person exhibitions and his work has been featured at museums across the country and internationally, most recently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Knoxville Museum of Art and the Centre Pompidou-Metz. Earlier this year, his latest commission, Jazz Bird, inspired by music legend Charlie “Bird” Parker, was unveiled at the Kansas City International Airport as part of a tribute to the city’s jazz history.
Location: Park Avenue @ 69th and 70th Streets
Standing five meters tall and built from Corten steel, Raul Mourão’s CAGE HEAD of 2023 proposes a thoughtful intervention in the urban environment. The sculpture’s mass, making use of gravity as a physical force, invites the audience to reflect on movement and fixity, weight and lightness; the delicate balance that binds society together and the potential repercussions when pressure is exerted upon it.
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1967, Mourão is part of a generation of artists that defined Rio’s cultural scene in the 1990s. Working across various media, including installation, sculpture, photography, video, drawing, and performance, Mourão’s visual vocabulary proposes displacements and redefinitions of familiar symbols and forms in contemporary society to encourage reflections on space, urbanism, and social mores. Recent solo exhibitions and projects include: Empty Head, at Nara Roesler (2021), in New York, USA; Fora/Dentro, at Museu da República (2018), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Você está aqui, at Museu Brasileiro de Ecologia e Escultura (MuBE) (2016), in São Paulo, Brazil; and Please Touch, at Bronx Museum (2015), in New York City.
CAGE HEAD is commissioned by Art at Americas Society, which is the longest- running space in the United States dedicated to exhibiting and promoting art from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada.
Location: Park Avenue @ 68th Street
Sophia Vari (born in Athens, Greece) recently deceased, was an established international visual artist known for polychrome sculptures, paintings, collage and watercolors. Her exploration into form and balance has evolved into several stages. Vari has pushed into the realm of dimensional space, as her nuanced geometric forms probe the relationship between the construction of physical space and the history of art. Her work is informed by Cubism, Olmec artifacts, and ancient Greek sculptures.
Created between 1993 and 2011, the works in Sophia Vari on Park Avenue, are a permutation of shapes with a sense of lightness and suspension, yet resolving space and structure with an imposing bearing. They have been exhibited in Paris, Rome, Montecarlo, Beijing, Pietrasanta, Madrid, Athens, Cartagena, Baden-Baden, Geneva, and recently in London, they will now captivate the New York public.
Location: Park Avenue bet. 53rd and 62nd Streets, 12 sculptures
If you start off at 53rd Street, you will be across the street from Lever House, with its current celebration of Ellsworth Kelly. Three of the art installations are outside. Although the public is not permitted in the building at this time, you can view another through the window. It’s worth noting that building management requests that viewers use only a cell phone camera (no professional camera shots permitted)
It is also worth mentioning how delighted we were to find Phillips Auction House/Gallery on the corner of Park Avenue at 56th Street, with a large street-level window that was too inviting to pass up.
Below, Alan Shields, Inverted Gumdrop hangs from the ceiling.
The Fund for Park Avenue is the NYC non-profit organization responsible for planting and maintaining the trees and flowers on the Park Avenue Malls between 54th and 86th Streets through the Park Avenue Malls Planting Project. The Fund also manages the annual Park Avenue Tree Lighting. Both programs are made possible solely by annual contributions from the community. The Fund’s Sculpture Committee works closely with NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program to present a variety of temporary sculpture exhibitions on the Park Avenue Malls