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Madison Square Park

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, July 23, 2002


A couple visiting from Scotland has pitched tents in Madison Square Park. Someone else has erected a pavilion where pedestrians can see their reflection distorted in curving arcs of plastic. It seems that an eccentric naturalist has set up a mobile wildlife observation hut in the park is well. Why isn’t Parks doing anything to stop these encroachments? These are the latest works to be featured in Target in the Park, a program that places temporary art by contemporary artists in Madison Square Park. On Thursday, July 11, Commissioner Adrian Benepe welcomed a crowd of art lovers to the park for the unveiling of the show called "Explore your World." Deputy Mayor for Administration Patti Harris, Vice President of Target Stores John Remmington, President of the Public Art Fund Susan Freedman, and Executive Director of the City Parks Foundation David Rivel all attended the reception. Three of the four featured artists, Dalziel + Scullion and Mark Dion, attended the opening as well. Local Restaurateur Danny Meyer catered the event, and a DJ kept the crowd buzzing as they mingled.

The art encourages visitors to notice the space around them. Dalziel + Scullion’s cast-metal tents evoke the idea of exploring new territory, Dan Graham’s pavilion inspiring reflection on design, and Mark Dion’s nostalgic Urban Wildlife Observation Unit reminds us that even familiar creatures like gray squirrels and house sparrows are wildlife. As Susan Freedman notes in her introduction to the Field Guide that accompanies Dion’s unit, parks are places where urban and natural worlds collide in New York City. She writes, "We hope that the installation...will quite literally open the visitor’s eyes to the richness of Madison Square Park and its many inhabitants who live, grow, or walk through here every day."

The art on display was commissioned by the Public Art Fund and funded by a three-year $1 million grant from Target. An enthusiastic Commissioner Benepe remarked, "I first met with representatives from Target in 2000 while I was still Manhattan Borough Commissioner. They were looking to do a project in New York City. What came about was a great public/private partnership between the City, the City Parks Foundation, and Target that has brought new and innovative public art to this historic park."

Our city parks can be thought of as an open-air museum with both a permanent collection and visiting exhibitions on display for the public. The art in Madison Square joins over 1200 monuments in parks citywide – including more than 300 items of sculptural significance – and monuments to famous American statesmen Roscoe Conkling, Admiral Farragut, William H. Seward, and Chester Allen Arthur already in the Square. There are several other temporary installations now on display citywide. In Sauer Park on the Lower East Side, there is a piece called The Bird of Imagining, inspired by a poem and designed in part by the students in the adjacent school. In Tribeca Park, a piece called Open House invites passerby to peer into a small glass house. Next month, a sculpture show is scheduled to open in Flushing Meadows Corona Park – giving modern art lovers incentive to see more than just MoMA next time they visit Queens.

Visitors can see Target Art in the Park on display until Halloween. Though it is the final year of the project in Madison Square, Target’s John Remmington told those present for the opening that his company gives away $2 million a week through its community giving program. Let’s hope that another grant might enable this wonderful program to continue and bring more young artists creative work into our parks.

Written by Jennifer Keeney


(Tuesday, August 1, 1989)



Marga Hellman cast an appreciative eye around the walls of the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park this morning. "This is a young piece," said Hellman, an art dealer, standing in front of Jack Demyan’s watercolor, "Richmond Town." "I especially like the composition of colors. Light but not too pastely. A happy kind of coloring."

"This one," she continued, admiring "Girl in Blue" by Esmie Palmer of the Bronx, "has a certain elegance that reminds one of Matisse. Very, very nice."


"Good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us."

Roy Azdak

Directions to Madison Square Park

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