Thomas Paine Park

The Daily Plant : Thursday, September 14, 2006

Landscapes Of The Future

Last night, a reception was held at the Arsenal Gallery to officially unveil Alternative Landscape Components: A New Land Art, a new series by renowned earth artist Dennis Oppenheim.  Two outdoor installations at Thomas Paine Park and Central Park, and an indoor exhibit at the Arsenal Gallery introduce a radical new direction in Oppenheim’s work - an integration of sculpture and landscape architecture.  The exhibition is on view from September 14 through November 8.

“Parks & Recreation’s temporary public art program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.  “Since 1967, collaborations with arts organizations and artists have produced hundreds of public art projects in City parks.  Dennis Oppenheim’s work is an exemplary illustration of incorporating nature into art and art into nature.”

Thomas Paine Park in downtown Manhattan is home to Garden for the Accused, an extensive garden named for the adjacent courts and jails.  The uptown installation, Landscape Installations for Central Park, places the artist’s trees and flowerbeds alongside their natural versions, creating a dialog between the organic and the synthetic.  Both installations involve highly artificial, manmade landscapes of trees, rocks, hedges and flowers.  Fluorescent trees with steel mesh branches support brightly colored acrylic shapes.  The artist utilized steel, acrylic panels, and household and landscaping objects such as trashcans, milk crates, fencing and plastic tubing to create elements that mimic nature.

“In a way, it’s like bringing a Las Vegas lobby to the backyard,” said artist Dennis Oppenheim.  “The structures resemble interior furniture more than what one would order from a nursery.”

These installations are part of a large, new body of work that comes from ideas that the artist has explored since his early rejection of the traditional gallery space for the outdoors during the Land Art Movement of the 1960s.  The Arsenal Gallery exhibit will examine this new and still developing work by displaying working drawings for the current outdoor pieces, as well as yet-unrealized landscape elements.  Curated by Parks & Recreation’s Public Art Coordinator Clare Weiss, the exhibit features photo montages in locations ranging from suburban backyards to dramatic mountain and seaside landscapes.  Oppenheim’s work has been shown extensively in major galleries and museums around the world.

Thomas Paine Park is located in Foley Square at Worth, Lafayette and Centre Streets in downtown Manhattan.  The uptown installation and the Arsenal Gallery are located in Central Park on 5th Avenue at 64th Street.  Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; and it is closed on October 9 and November 7. Admission is free.

We hope that you will visit the installations and witness a truly unique artistic experience.


In yesterday’s Daily Plant, we printed a piece from Michael Vitti discussing the benefits of mountain biking in relation to the new trails being constructed at Highbridge Park and Cunningham Park.  We remind our readers that this activity will only be permitted in designated areas.  Parks continues to enforce restrictions against riding bikes off road on hiking trails, through woodland and vegetated areas, and on desire lines.


“Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye –
it also includes the inner pictures of the soul.”

Edvard Munch
(1863 – 1944)

Directions to Thomas Paine Park

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