New York City has been hit with a dopamine blast of Spring, giving everyone a taste of what we may hopefully expect this summer, as more and more people get vaccinated and our parks become essential warm-weather gathering places. One of the many promising outdoor cultural experiences on the horizon is the public art exhibit RE:GROWTH, A Celebration of Art, Riverside Park, and the New York Spirit from the Riverside Park Conservancy, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary.
“As I started to consider different artists and pieces and think about [using] different spots in the park, the idea of ‘regrowth’ kept coming to mind,” curator Karin Bravin told Gothamist. “It has so many different meanings: regrowth coming from winter into spring as this opens, regrowth coming out of the pandemic, and regrowth metaphorically in terms of unity and politics.”
Bravin, who previously curated a public art exhibition in the park in 2006, said there are at least 24 artists taking part in the project, creating a mix of sculptures, flags, augmented reality pieces and more. Their work will be installed throughout Riverside Park—spread out between 68th and 145th streets as to avoid too much clustering in one single area—and will be on view from June 5th, 2021 to September 10th, 2021.
“I don’t think anyone expects large gatherings at the same time, that’s the beauty of the project: you walk along a path and something takes you by surprise,” Bravin said. “[President and CEO of Riverside Park Conservancy] Dan Garodnick has been very mindful of the fact we can’t have a big gathering or event because of the pandemic, but this is a gift to the visitors of the park so that they can see something that might make them think differently.”
“It makes you not only consider the art in a different light, it might make you consider the park itself differently,” she added. “You might have never noticed an archway, a grate or fence, but this gives it new life.”
Bravin herself has a deep personal relationship with the park: she’s a lifelong Upper West Side resident who grew up in the West 70s, then moved back to the neighborhood when she had her own kids. “I was born and raised on the Park in The Schwab House, and my mother still lives there,” she said. “And so Riverside Park was my backyard.”
She described what sorts of artists and exhibits people can expect to run into when they walk through the park this summer: in the West 60s near the Hudson River, there will be a piece by Letha Wilson, who prints photography onto Corten steel. Jean Shin is making a piece about pollution called ‘Invasive’, which will utilize portions of Mountain Dew bottles that look like they’re growing out of the earth. Sui Park, who makes abstract forms out of zip ties that she dyes, will have a piece up that looks “like alien moss and grass.” Kenseth Armstead has a piece in the West 90s commemorating the Underground Railroad.
Mary Mattingly, who you might remember as the artist behind the floating edible forest barge Swale, is creating a structure in the park. Shuli Sadé will have an AR piece at four locations along the water, so you “will see her artwork floating in the Hudson.” And Valerie Hegarty will be making something site-specific for an archway in the West 100s which was connected to the Freedom Tunnel.
Other artists taking part in the project include: Vanessa Albury, Blanka Amezkua, Lee Boroson, Dahlia Elsayed, Mark Joshua Epstein, Rico Gatson, DeWitt Godfrey, Joshua Goode, Wennie Huang, Beth Krebs, Sadie Laska, Niki Lederer, Wendy Letven, LoVid, Joiri Minaya, Glen Wilson and Woolpunk.
You can learn more about Riverside Park and its many highlights here.
BIG NEWS. This summer we are hosting a free, summer-long art exhibit in the Park!
RE:GROWTH, A Celebration of Art, Riverside Park, and the New York Spirit, opens June 5 and will feature 20+ artists.
— Riverside Park Conservancy (@RiversideParkNY) March 10, 2021