Monday, April 11, 2011

New York City, April 2011, Part 2

Yesterday on the bus ride to the City I noticed that finally, it seems, spring has come to New York. While the forsythias are not yet the blinding chrome yellow of their full bloom, the buds are certainly bursting and the color is unmistakably sunny! So with the dual enticements of a warm cloudless day and the advent of New York's seasonal outdoor displays I thought, while I was there, a walking tour was in order. I'd read a piece about a new public art installation along the Park Avenue mall. Will Ryman's crazy large, blatantly garish fiberglass roses were planted in January on a few dozen of these little urban stages, between 57th and 67th streets.

They are just the latest of the always eye-catching displays along this wide residential boulevard but definitely one of the more fanciful.

See them through May 31st during the day or under the spotlights at night.  You can find more details and read the artist's statements here.

What I love most about Manhattan is the likelihood that without warning you might all at once stumble upon the completely unexpected. One could argue that a 25 foot tall flower looking like the spawn of Little Shop of Horror's resident man-eater Audrey is the very definition of unexpected and one would be right. But in this case the unexpected I'm referring to is that particular vignette, vast and imposing or tiny and delicate, that one has no idea is lurking around the next corner.  So the surprise, in addition to the delight, is the thing.

At any moment you might be feeling oppressed by the gray hardness all around you when suddenly the crowd thins and you see an improbably large flower pot exploding with the glow of daffodils and the perfume of hyacinths.

Turn the corner from a boring, unending expanse of dreary storefronts and feel the exhilaration of a wide open esplanade lined with elegant residences punctuated by a parade of planters packed with masses of tulips, each with petals just now shyly peeking out from their green leaf robes.

Walk up the street a way and - can you believe your eyes? Is that a frightfully large yellow - YELLOW?! - teddy bear! Yes. Very large. And a fine shade of yellow. Like the lemon in lemon meringue pie.  And it seems to be knit from yarn. And it has the shade of a black desk lamp sitting on its head. Like a wayward baseball cap - or batting helmet. And its poor little head is crammed up against the light bulb in the lamp. And all the diminutive people, as amazed as I am, are milling around, fascinated. Or completely ignoring it as New Yorkers do.

This art installation, one of 3 by sculptor Urs Fischer, can be viewed on Seagram's Plaza (Park Avenue at 53rd street) for the next five months before being auctioned off by Christie's (in case you just HAD to have it for your own plaza).

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