By Tammy Scileppi
Overlooking the East River, with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop, internationally renowned Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City boasts striking contemporary and innovative sculptures, along with wonderful community attractions, including outdoor entertainment.
Marking its 25th anniversary with exciting events throughout the year, Socrates is hosting an upcoming interactive event, which will take place on Governors Island, Aug. 18 and Aug. 19. Participants can join the park’s exhibiting artists and enjoy a truly exciting experience.
“Socrates Sculpture Park’s 25th anniversary year celebrates the park’s historic accomplishments, as well as introduces its plans for the future. Four Tours, a program in partnership with Storm King Art Center, provides an opportunity to connect young contemporary artists with Socrates founder, Mark di Suvero,” said John Hatfield, the park’s executive director.
Di Suvero, a brilliant sculptor, is known for his commitment to artists’ communities. His 11 sculptures at Governor’s Island will be the focal point of the event.
On Sunday, Aug. 19 at 1 p.m., sculptor Janelle Iglesias will be conducting a family-oriented workshop as her way of celebrating Socrates Sculpture Park’s 25 years as a cultural arts mecca that has encouraged conversation between artists, their works and the public.
Participants can investigate the scale of the artwork and make small constructions “inspired by the geometrical abstraction of Di Suvero’s works — using simple, recycled materials, such as junk mail, cereal boxes and toilet paper tubes,” Iglesias said.
Through collecting, arranging and manipulating the everyday, the Queens native creates “new micro-environments inspired by animal architecture and human contraptions. Much of my work reacts to the sites where they are built and they are composed of materials found locally,” she said. “I also tend to work either very small, such that you can turn a sculpture around in your hands, or very large, such that you have to walk around the work to see it and fully experience it.”
She has an upcoming solo show at the Larissa Goldston Gallery in Chelsea, Sept. 6 –29.
Another artist, Rob Swainston, who lives and works in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, led a participatory waterfront bike ride between Socrates and Governors Island on Aug. 12 — in celebration of the Socrates 25th anniversary. Fellow riders learned about communities and structures along the waterfront, with “Stop and Look” moments, where they experienced structures and landmarks through SeeSlow (www.seeslow.net) drawings and discussions about the history and transformation of the neighborhood — symbolically held at several of di Suvero’s sculptures.
“In 15 years of living and biking along the waterfront, I have watched communities and neighborhoods change, and have worked on environmental and housing issues,” said Swainston. “I am a part of the artist rejuvenation story, working for years on expanding the original Loft Law to include my generation of artists, along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront.”
From a vacant landfill, Socrates Sculpture Park was transformed into a beautiful green space, which captures art within an urban environment. It was built by the entire community 25 years ago and is an inspiring place where sculptors can create and exhibit their work, while interacting with visitors. Here, families and singles can also enjoy a variety of free activities, including creative workshops, fitness classes, outdoor theatrical performances and film screenings. You can even have your kids’ birthday parties here and bring your dog to the neighborhood park.
For more information about Governors Island in New York Harbor, including detailed directions, you can go to: govisland.com/html/visit/directions.shtml
If You Go
Socrates Sculpture Park
32-01 Vernon Blvd.
Long Island City