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2013 Arsenal Gallery Exhibits

Exhibits by Year:

December 5, 2013 – January 9, 2014

Wreath Interpretations

NYC Parks celebrates the holiday season with its 31st annual exhibition of unique, unconventional wreaths. A diverse selection of 47 fine artists, horticulturalists, designers, and other spirited contributors enliven this ageless holiday symbol. Neck ties, rat traps, acorns, recycled plastic bags and forged steel are among the many and varied materials used to examine themes as diverse as zombie apocalypses and water conservation. This exhibition is sure to be an imaginative and enjoyable experience this year's holiday season.

Watch Ghosts of Wreaths Past

Edward Gormley, Victory, 2013, rat traps

September 13 – November 13, 2013

Notched Bodies: Insects In Contemporary Art

Notched Bodies: Insects In Contemporary Art features eleven contemporary artists who offer probing personal interpretations on the importance of insects through a variety of media: Brandon Ballengée, Joianne Bittle, Rebecca Clark, Emilie Clark, Talia Greene, Asuka Hishiki, Julian Montague, Lisa Murch, Julia Oldham, Christy Rupp, and Ben Snead. The show is curated by Jennifer Lantzas, NYC Parks’ Public Art Coordinator.

This exhibition takes its name from ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle’s classification of insects by their similar traits: six legs and clearly segmented or “notched” bodies. Humans have had a long and complex relationship with insects. Their alien appearance can be jarring or off-putting, but upon closer inspection insects are works of art. Wasps, beetles, butterflies, cicadas, ants, and crickets are some of the insects examined in the show.

Located on Arsenal lawn, Brandon Ballengée’s outdoor light installation creates interactions between nocturnal arthropods and humans. In the gallery, Joianne Bittle’s Goliath Beetle is removed from his natural surroundings and placed on a gold background, referencing religious icons from the Byzantine era. A botanic wallpaper installation by Talia Greene is inhabited by a colony of weaver ants, illustrating our vain attempts to impose order on the natural world. Faux books and records designed by Julian Montague document the hypothetical history of pest control. In her videos, Julia Oldham translates insects’ behaviors into choreographed performances. Ben Snead paints insects in geometric patterns—a personal classification system based on aesthetics rather than science. Rebecca Clark, Emilie Clark, Asuka Hishiki, Lisa Murch, and Christy Rupp also present diverse artworks that herald insects as fascinating creatures to be studied, understood and celebrated.

Download the Notched Bodies digital publication

Ben Snead, Beetle Frequency, 2000, Oil paint on linen; 64 x 74 inches, courtesy of Feature Inc. and the artist

June 27 – August 30, 2013

Land Art Generator Initiative: Freshkills Park

The Land Art Generator Initiative: Freshkills Park is an exhibition of the top 25 designs selected out of 250 submissions from around the globe by artists, architects, designers, engineers, landscape architects, and more. LAGI 2012 was an ideas competition to design a site-specific public artwork that, in addition to its conceptual beauty, has the ability to harness energy cleanly from nature and convert it into electricity for the utility grid. At 2,200 acres, Freshkills Park will be almost three times the size of Central Park and the largest park developed in New York City in over 100 years. The transformation of what was formerly the world’s largest landfill into a productive and beautiful cultural destination will make the park a symbol of renewal and an expression of how our society can restore balance to its landscape. The top three submissions not only heighten the beauty of the surrounding park land but also provide a gateway into a greater discussion about the preservation of the environment.

Scene-Sensor // Crossing Social and Ecological Flows, James Murray & Shota Vashakmadze

May 2 – June 20, 2013

Erik Benson, The Park

Erik Benson’s paintings depict the landscape of everyday metropolitan life, created with thousands of shapes hand-cut from dried sheets of acrylic paint. Benson uses this painstaking compositional technique to capture the complexity of urban development, with its interplay of construction and creative destruction, density and emptiness. Familiar cityscapes emerge as more complex than they initially appear.

“Originally I was interested in creating a painting vocabulary that depicted the plasticity and temporality of unexamined things such as playgrounds and construction sites,” says Benson. “These interests have been growing into ideas and concerns that deal with the urban landscape, such as how cities grow and shrink, and what these issues mean to the inhabitants.”

In these vivid new paintings, Benson considers the role and impact of playgrounds, trees and parks within evolving communities, often setting the saturated colors and bold shapes of play equipment and dynamic tree branch patterns against the muted backdrops of the surrounding buildings. Inspired by his neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn, he creates works that are not precise representations, but rather archetypes, at once foreboding and optimistic.

Erik Benson (b. 1974), Playground (Weeds), 2013 Acrylic on canvas over panel, 64 by 72 inches (162.6 x 182.9 cm)

March 7 – April 26, 2013

Benjamin Swett, New York City of Trees

Twenty-eight color portraits of trees around the five boroughs take the viewer up close to some of the extraordinary species that grow along the streets and in the parks, cemeteries, gardens, and backyards of the city. After working at Parks for thirteen years, Swett left in 2001 to pursue a career as a freelance photographer but continued to photograph New York City’s urban forest, fascinated by the connections between trees and the city’s history. “We know that trees improve living conditions in cities by filtering and cooling the air, absorbing excess rainwater, and making neighborhoods more attractive,” writes Swett. “But little has been said about the importance of trees as keepers of a city’s past. The aim in taking these pictures—aside from taking the best photographs I could—was to try to bring back into focus an aspect of the city that most people tend to take for granted until something happens to it. The idea has been to remind New Yorkers how much of their own lives and the lives of neighbors these trees quietly contain.”

The Arsenal Gallery, in partnership with MillionTreesNYC, is pleased to offer three public lectures by noted tree authors in conjunction with the exhibit New York City of Trees—for more information visit: MillionTreesNYC.

This project was partially funded through a grant from Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, with additional support from the City Parks Foundation. The images have been selected from Swett’s forthcoming book New York City of Trees, to be released by the Quantuck Lane Press on March 6.

Watch a video about New York City of Trees

February 1 – February 27, 2013

Celebrate Black History Month: African-American Monuments in New York City’s Parks

The monuments in our parks honor the heights of human achievement and the depths of human sacrifice. They are intended in permanent form to commemorate persons, events and values of lasting consequence to the evolution of our city, nation and the world, and to our advancement as a people.

In honor of Black History Month, this exhibition examines those monuments in the Parks collection that honor key African-American figures in the arts, sport, the military, science, and the abolition movement and who are preserved in our collective memory. Also remembered are the many thousands of anonymous people who, until emancipation, did not have the rights of citizenship and were enslaved.

New York City Parks Sculptures Honoring the African-American Experience

Related Links

History of the Arsenal

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