The most enduring public art — from Philip Martiny and John Hemingway Duncan’s “Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch” (1892) in Brooklyn, to Tom Otterness’s “Life Underground” (2001) in Manhattan — tends to take on an existence of its own. To New Yorkers who frequent spaces like 14th Street Station and Grand Army Plaza, those works are often landmarks as core to the city’s identity as the subways or streets themselves. The Madison Square Park Conservancy in New York City is hosting a symposium, Innovating Public Art, that will break down the role of works like this in communities and the responsibility that goes into creating them. The whole event is free, but an RSVP is required.
The presentations and discussions at Manhattan’s SVA Theatre will touch on “innovations in the field, the opportunities and challenges for artists when realizing work in the public sphere, and how and why public art can play a role in an institution’s civic responsibility,” according to Madison Square Park Conservancy. There will be a conversation with the artist Martin Puryear, this year’s United States Representative at the Venice Biennale, and architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, who designed the Biennale’s US pavilion. A panel moderated by Holland Cotter of the New York Times will include artists Firelei Báez and Alex Da Corte as well as museum curators and directors Ryan Dennis and Max Hollein. Additionally, attendees can expect presentations from curator Stéphane Aquin and artists Abigail DeVille, Cristina Iglesias, and Leonardo Drew — whose installation “City in the Grass” (2019) is now on view in Madison Square Park.
When: Friday, June 21, 9am-noon (free admission with RSVP)
Where: SVA Theatre (333 West 23rd Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)