On September 7, 2023, Public Art Fund will unveil Fred Eversley’s mesmerizing 12-foot tall sculpture at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza in Central Park. Eversley’s powerful new magenta-tinted cast polyurethane work, titled Parabolic Light, will offer visitors a captivating experience of perceiving the surrounding environment, others, and themselves through the artist’s “lens”. Simultaneously reflective and transparent, the luminescent parabolic form—a tapered cylinder—will serve as a focal point of serenity, transcendence, and the exploration of new dimensions and perspectives. The exhibition reflects Public Art Fund’s ongoing commitment to creating public exhibition opportunities for advanced career artists and artists of color, particularly those who may not have received widespread recognition earlier in their careers. Eversley’s presentation represents not only his first public sculpture in New York, but also the first outdoor placement of the artist’s large-scale polyurethane resin works.
“Fred Eversley’s art immerses us in perceptual experiences that bring us outside of ourselves. He explores how an artwork may inhabit the world around it while simultaneously inviting us into the realms of imagination and mystery,” said Public Art Fund Artistic & Executive Director Nicholas Baume. “Parabolic Light, Eversley’s first public work in his home city, takes his series of pristine cylindrical sculptures to a new scale and context, engaging with the ever-changing outdoor environment, the effects of natural light, and the countless visitors whose attention it will capture.”
New York-based artist Fred Eversley is a pioneer of the West Coast Light and Space and Finish Fetish movements. With his scientific background as an electrical and aerospace engineer informing his artistic practice for over fifty years, Eversley is renowned for his vivid cast resin works that invite audience-artwork interaction through a range of sensory phenomena. Dedicated to expressing ideas about energy as a physical and metaphysical concern for all of humanity, Eversley’s sculptures center on the parabola, the only shape that concentrates all forms of energy—light, sound, and heat—into a single acoustic and optical focal point.
“My parabolic forms are all about Energy. They are made to reflect all the infinite combinations of internal reflections, refractions, color changes, and other optical phenomena that one can experience within a single sculpture,” said artist Fred Eversley. “Parabolic Light and its display in Doris C. Freedman Plaza resonates with my vision of an energetic outdoor focal point to attract public audiences to spontaneously pause, slow down, and engage in numerous ways with a cosmic, mystifying object.”
Eversley’s presentation with Public Art Fund marks an ambitious continuation of his new Cylindrical Lens works, the artist’s first series of larger-than-human-scale, free-standing, floor-based sculptures. These recent works—which debuted at David Kordansky Gallery in May 2023—are conceptually linked to the cylindrical section sculptures the artist first exhibited in his first solo presentation at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1970. The largest work of the series thus far, Parabolic Light, is shaped as a plano-convex lens that focuses light into a single line. It acts as an optical instrument where stillness and motion appear to be present at the same time. Its geometrical mass gradually transitions its magenta hue, from rich saturation at its bottom to colorless transparency at the apex. The color saturation further shifts depending on the angle of the viewer and the direction of the sun. The sculpture obtains its luminous tone and reflective quality from its crystal-clear resin material and through a labor-intensive hand-polishing process. Parabolic Light appears simultaneously reflective and transparent, liquid and solid—a manmade form with an otherworldly, ethereal quality.
Parabolic Light prompts questions about how optical and physical perceptions determine how we connect with each other and the world, communicating a kinetic, palpable sense of the mysterious presence of energy throughout the universe. The sculpture’s properties, and direct placement on the ground, entice viewers to approach and move around the work. Bending, distorting, and reflecting faces, forms, and colors, the work heightens the relationship between the viewer’s body and the cylindrical lens. This key performative facet is on full display in this outdoor work. Interacting with natural light and spontaneous passers-by, it represents Eversley’s most far-reaching and dynamic foray into the cultivation of audience-artwork interaction to date. The work’s outdoor site will allow for natural light to hit its surface and further generate a range of refractions and prismatic effects, connecting the viewer’s senses with the object and the environment in spellbinding ways. In this way, the sculpture expands and destabilizes multiple states of existence and perception. Straddling the scientific, metaphysical, and mystical, the sculpture functions as a portal for viewers to a world of radiant color, abstracted form, and a re-examination of one’s self and others within our surroundings.
About the artist ~ Fred Eversley (b. 1941, Brooklyn, New York) is a key figure in the development of contemporary art from Los Angeles during the postwar period. He synthesizes elements from several art historical movements associated with Southern California, including Light and Space, though his work is the product of a pioneering vision all his own, informed by lifelong studies on the timeless principles of light, space, time, and gravity. Prior to becoming an artist, Eversley moved to California to become an engineer, collaborating with NASA and major aerospace companies to develop high-energy acoustic and vibration testing laboratories. Eversley’s work on NASA’s second and third human spaceflight programs, Gemini and Apollo, developed his interest in the parabola, which began when he was a teen. His pioneering use of plastic, polyester resin, and industrial dyes and pigments reflects the technological advances that define the postwar period even as his work reveals the timeless inner workings of the human eye and mind.
Eversley will unveil his largest Public Commission to date, a sculptural installation, titled ‘Portals’, for permanent display in Able’s Park, at One Flagler, West Palm Beach in early summer of 2024, commissioned by Related Companies in partnership with the City of West Palm Beach. He has also been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Orange County Museum of Art, Costa Mesa, California (2022–2023); Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts (2017); Art + Practice, Los Angeles (2016); National Academy of Science, Washington, D.C. (1981); Palm Springs Art Museum, California (1977); Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, California (1976); and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1970). Eversley will be part of two major group shows as part of the Pacific Standard Time Art and Science Collide program 2024. Recent group exhibitions include Light and Space, Copenhagen Contemporary, Copenhagen (2021–2022); Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963–1983(2017–2020, traveled to five venues); Space Shifters, Hayward Gallery, London (2018); Dynamo – A Century of Light and Motion in Art, Grand Palais, Paris (2013); Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980(Getty Foundation, 2011; traveled to Gropius Bau, Berlin, 2012). His work is in the permanent collections of more than three dozen museums throughout the world, including Tate Modern, London; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; Museum of Modern Art, New York; K11 Art Foundation, Hong Kong; and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The first monograph dedicated to Eversley’s work was published by David Kordansky Gallery in 2022. Eversley lives and works in New York City.
Visiting the Doris C. Freedman Plaza ~ Named for the founder of Public Art Fund and New York City’s first Director of Cultural Affairs, Doris C. Freedman Plaza was home to one of the organization’s first exhibitions and has been the site of more than 60 installations since Public Art Fund’s founding in 1977.
Fred Eversley: Parabolic Light is curated by Public Art Fund Artistic & Executive Director Nicholas Baume with support from Assistant Curator Jenée-Daria Strand and initial development by former Public Art Fund Senior Curator Allison Glenn. The installation will be on view from September 7, 2023 to August 25, 2024.
Public Art Fund exhibitions are always free and open to the public.
About Public Art Fund ~ As the leader in its field, Public Art Fund brings dynamic contemporary art to a broad audience in New York City and beyond by mounting ambitious free exhibitions of international scope and impact that offer the public powerful experiences with art and the urban environment.
Public Art Fund, currently on view:
Nicholas Galanin: In every language there is Land/En cada lingua hay tuna Tierra in Brooklyn Bridge Park to November 12, 2023
Phyllida Barlow: PRANK throughout City Hall Park, on view through November 26, 2023.
Felipe Baeza: Unruly Forms as part of JCDecaux Bus Shelters Citywide, throughout New York from August 9 to November 19, 2023.
Take a look back at past Public Art Fund installations.