Landmark at Queens’ Socrates Sculpture Park

A 30th anniversary exhibition on the waterfront hits full bloom

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Occupying a nook of green space along the waterfront in Long Island City, Queens, Socrates Sculpture Park has developed a reputation over the last 30 years for two things. First, the organization behind it (founded by sculptor Mark di Suvero) has acted as an incubator for many well-known artists and provided the outlet for their first large-scale outdoor works. Second, they’ve worked with the local community and nearby schools to co-sponsor arts education. For years now, the open studio and exhibition space has offered an artistic reprieve, and soon it will be recognized by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio as an official public park—and join New York City’s Parks Department. In the meantime, running now through 28 August, the 30th annniversary exhibition “Landmark” is quite literally in full bloom. Eight different artists are represented, but at its core, artist Meg Webster’s “Concave Room for Bees” acts as a microcosm for everything we love about the public space.

Webster’s creation happens to be a 70-feet in diameter bowl of earth, with seating at its center. The surrounding circle includes various plants, set to bloom at various times during the exhibition’s run. It’s a living exhibition by the 72-year-old artist that offers peace, reflection and a view of the water nearby. It is a multi-sensory experience: as well as the visuals, visitors are aware of the fragrance from the plants and the sounds from insects and birds. According to curator Jess Wilcox, “It’s very much a piece that acknowledges ecology, but also includes social and political factors. Bees are threatened. Meg Webster wanted to address that while creating a holistic, phenomenological experience. It’s painterly. It’s thought of in swathes of color. The heights and textures grow and change.”

Among the other compelling pieces, artist Jessica Segall’s “Fugue in B♭” turns a salvaged piano harp into a buzzing beehive and Cary Leibowitz adorns a working Bobcat loader with bumper sticks of clever art references. Altogether, it’s an outdoor exhibition in an ever-important park that continues a tradition of forward-thinking.

Landmark” is running through 28 August and during that time Socrates Sculpture Park has an extensive roster of free programming including yoga, storytelling, a kite festival and free film screenings.

Images by Cool Hunting