Court Square Park
The Daily Plant : Friday, April 11, 2003
ARTIST INVITES NEW YORKERS TO STOP AND SMELL HER FLOWERS
As the days grow longer and the temperatures climb, New Yorkers begin adventuring out of the indoors looking for something to do. Luckily for all of us, in a city as big and culturally diverse as ours, there is never a lack of things to do. Flowers are starting to bloom across the city, as the new blooming guide issued by Parks & Recreation this month details. And art abounds, from gallery shows to outdoor installations. If you're looking for both, you'll be happy to know that Long Island City offers a chance to enjoy both of these thanks to Julita Wojcik, a Polish artist who has made her first trip to America this month to grow a garden in Court Square Park. Through this Saturday, Julita Wojcik will be planting, tending and interacting with visitors to a garden she’s titled simply, "My Garden." And even after Wojcik returns to Poland, her temporary art installation will remain in the park through June 8, 2003.
"Public art takes many forms," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, who himself is of Polish descent. "Julita Wojcik’s synthesis of art and nature is a perfect addition to Court Square Park. The ‘home garden’ is also a reminder of traditional Polish veneration of flowers and plants, and a reminder of the role New York City plays as a home to so many cultures and nationalities."
My Garden invites visitors to the park to pause from their daily routines and interact with the artist and her creation—to stop and smell the flowers. Wojcik’s garden raises questions about the interactivity of art, the art created by controlling and utilizing materials from the natural world, and the relationship between parks, cities, and suburban spaces. Like many of her other projects, Ms. Wojcik becomes a part of the piece itself and invites the public to participate in the dialogue she starts. My Garden is part of Architectures of Gender: Contemporary Women’s Art in Poland, an exhibition of contemporary Polish installation art on view at SculptureCenter from April 11 through June 8, 2003 and is the first group exhibition of Polish art to be mounted in New York since 1976.
"People often expect art in the park to be a sculpture just sitting there, and this counters that expectation in two ways," said Parks & Recreation’s Public Art Coordinator Patricia Hamilton. "First, this piece is constantly growing and changing, and second, the artist is in the park talking to passersby."
Weather, however, has brought new challenges to the project. Freezing temperatures and snow delayed initial planting and continued to cause complications even once planting had begun. Ultimately, however, the garden will bloom and Long Island City can add yet another art spot to its growing map of destinations.
Court Square Park stands directly in front of the Queens County Court House in Long Island City. On October 22, 1872, the City of New York purchased the land on which the courthouse and Court Square Park stand. In 1934, the land that is now Court Square Park was divided into two separate plots, and subsequent local laws named the northeast section of the land Court Square and the southwest section of the land Albert E. Short Square. In the early 1990s, the two parks were merged and the new park was named Court Square Park.
Parks & Recreation’s temporary public art program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs since 1967 and shows between 10 and 15 projects each year. Recent projects in Queens include 2002’s Urban Air Forms—a collection of sculptures in Flushing Meadows Corona Park—and Surf’s Up a mural project along Shore Road in Far Rockaway.
Written by Eric Adolfsen
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"Today is the first day of the rest of your life."