Press Releases

Thursday, November 30, 2006
No. 120

Wreaths With A Spin At The Arsenal Gallery

Parks & Recreation is pleased to announce the 24th annual Wreath Interpretations exhibition, a holiday tradition at the Arsenal in Central Park. Artists, craftspeople, botanists, and other creative spirits from within and outside the Parks Department have used materials such as lace, wire hangers, bullets, barbed wire, wine glasses, and organic materials to create 23 unique wreaths.

"Since 1982, this cherished holiday tradition has decked the Arsenal with the interpretive wreaths of the City’s creative spirits," said Commissioner Benepe. "This year’s collection embodies the wreath’s historical roots as a symbol of hope and renewal, both at the holiday season and in times of war. We thank the artists for putting their creative spin on this timeless circular form."

This year’s exhibition offers a diverse collection of wreath interpretations. One artist created a "wearable" wreath, while others used wearable items such as a straw hat or sweat wristbands. Some artists utilized household items such as wine glasses, wire hangers or a bicycle wheel to form their wreaths. Others used the classic base of branches and evergreens mixed with more unusual organic materials such as cat hair or seashells. While many wreaths have themes of the holiday season or the natural world, some take on a more political theme with barbed wire, army camouflage and newspaper headlines.

Historically, wreaths were used as a sign of importance and victory. In ancient Rome, wreaths were worn on the heads of leaders, much like a crown. The Greeks placed wreaths on the heads of the winning athletes at the first Olympic Games. During the winter, ancient Germanic peoples placed evergreen boughs in a circle to indicate life through the winter. Today the word wreath most often invokes thoughts of the holiday season and round boughs of evergreens. But whatever form the wreath may take, including those of nontraditional forms or materials, it symbolizes life and hope for the winter and the holiday season.

The exhibition, organized by Parks & Recreation’s Public Art Coordinator Clare Weiss, will be on display from November 30 through December 29, 2006. The Arsenal Gallery is dedicated to examining themes of nature, urban space, wildlife, New York City parks and park history. It is located on the third floor of the Parks Department Headquarters, in Central Park, on Fifth Avenue at 64th Street. Gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; closed December 25, 2006. Admission is free.

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