Unexpected Beauty: Looking Out for Public Art

MOMA Installation “Rockaway!” at Fort Tilden

Sometimes, people think that they don’t care much for art because they don’t have the mental stamina to spend hours in a museum.  I used to be one of those people, until I realized there are other, less conventional ways to explore art.

Public art installations are the kind of thing that are easy to overlook.  In a fast-paced city, they can just melt into the background.  But by paying attention to your surroundings, you might find that the process enjoying art doesn’t have to be limited to doing so in a typical museum.

This realization first dawned on me during an early morning run this past summer, when I came across a new sculpture in Prospect Park.  Curiosity led me to investigate what it was all about, and I learned that it was part of an Art in the Parks exhibition.

Art in Prospect Park by Carol Eisner
Sculpture in Prospect Park by Carole Eisner

Shortly after that, a friend of mine mentioned an outdoor MoMA installation at Fort Tilden, so we devised a route that would take us there.  As an added bonus, the building provided some welcome shelter from a downpour.

Once I became more cognizant of the existence of these things, I began seeing them everywhere.  Two recent examples are Lionel Smit’s Morphous sculpture in Union Square Park and Xavier Veilhan’s sculpture at the corner of 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue.  Stumbling across a new-to-me exhibit always brings a little bit of unexpected cheer into an ordinary day, whereas spending hours in a museum often just makes me feel irritated.  And if you do enjoy museums, surely some addition bites of art would be welcome!

Contributed by: Leiba Rimler, Judaica Cataloging Librarian, Technical Services

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