West Harlem Art Fund Presents Its First Winter Exhibition — Curb Appeal On Governors Island

November 30, 2023

The West Harlem Art Fund is expanding their seasonal residency on Governors Island through Winter 2024.

The first organization outside of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, to offer year-round public art with an indoor installation available by appointment only.

This year marks our 25th anniversary, according to Executive Director Savona Bailey-McClain, where we have presented public art throughout NYC in four out of the five boroughs.

Public art can present many challenges — strong winds, compacted soil, small animals or even vandalism. Offering sculptural works during the wintertime could be extremely difficult or very beautiful. The openness of Governors Island lends itself to tree-scapes that are breathtaking and possible snowdrifts that could remind you of a lithograph by Currier & Ives.

Curb Appeal is the name of this winter exhibition because the West Harlem Art Fund is at the end of Nolan Park with six outdoor works and an indoor installation. The public can view the works beginning December 9th through early April 2024.

Sculptural Installations

Ancestral Annual II by Dario Mohr and Cody Umans

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Sanctuaries are reverential in nature, and often comprise both art and object. I construct these experiences referencing the visual language of my former Anglican faith, as well as my burgeoning understanding of the spiritual practices of my ancestral heritage from West Africa, and philosophies from around the world. Lately, this has included the journey of reclamation of lost ancestry due to colonialism and slavery. 

Circling Perspectives by Dianne Smith

This installation consist of an outdoor circular wire sculpture situated low to the ground. This project, titled Circling Perspectives, aims to explore the symbolism and artistic significance of circles and wires in sculpture while engaging with the unique environment of Governors Island.

For centuries, and still… (anticipated completion) by Kevin Quiles Bonilla and Zaq Landsberg

Thinking of both colonial Puerto Rican landscapes, and the ubiquitous New York City construction sites as thresholds, limbos and incomplete environments, For centuries, and still… (anticipated completion) recreates a guard tower (or Garita, in Spanish) from the iconic colonial fortresses of Old San Juan, built out of New York City construction fencing material. Echoing the hastily painted green plywood walls, paint-sprayed “Post No Bills’’ stencils, and everyday interventions such as buffed-out graffiti and commercial posters, these elements represent a New York City visual language, which creates a visually specific link to Puerto Rico, its colonial legacy to the US, and the history of migration between both locations. 

Nature’s Flow and Direction by Atu Ram

Self-standing structure with a circular disc on top that will feature a large compass showing the four directions of the earth. From the center of the compass, 12 arches will project outward. The 12 curved arched poles represent the months of the year. 

The center compass will be 4 ft high, the poles will project out 12 ft and the entire structure will stand 6ft high. The overall structure will be 6ft high and 12 ft wide in circumference around the center structure.

The piece will symbolize the natural curve and flow of the seasons through space and time that we all experience. Nature’s cosmic clock will be portrayed through a curved lens, connecting the ebb and flow of the universe. 

Spout by Luke Schumacher

Spout is the artist interpretation of a waterspout tornado and the flowing energy of water being lifted and dropped back into the ocean. When the artist first moved to NYC in 2007, Brooklyn saw the largest tornado in its history. Besides that amazing and powerful force of nature that year, there were also many waterspouts which are tornadoes that form over a body of water.

“Thug America” A Performance of Forgivenessby Dennis RedMoon Darken

“Thug America” A Performance of Forgiveness is a collection of 12 to 20 photographs captured across various settings, including Governor’s Island and several other residencies I’ve had the privilege to be part of over the past two years. This series delves deep into the rich tapestry of these locations, weaving together elements of history, storytelling, and mythology in the context of forgiveness. 

Through the lens of my camera, I invite viewers to embark on a visual journey that unearths the multifaceted aspects of forgiveness. These photographs not only chronicle the historical significance of these places but also draw connections to the profound stories and mythologies associated with the concept of forgiveness. 

One of the significant aspects of this collection is its exploration of indigenous and black histories intricately interwoven with the landscapes, events, and people of the island and beyond. The exhibit is designed to immerse visitors in an interactive experience, both inside and outside. As you navigate through the exhibit, you’ll find these powerful images displayed on lawn signs that offer not just captivating visuals but also narratives, histories, and linguistic connections that breathe life into the concept of forgiveness. 

Winter Performance of Forgiveness is not just a collection of photographs; it’s a thought-provoking, emotionally charged exploration of the stories, history, and connections that forgiveness brings to the forefront. It is a testament to the power of art in evoking reflection, understanding, and perhaps, even forgiveness itself.” 

Wrapped in Indigo by Jaleeca R. Yancy (indoor installation) 

This is the artist’s largest indigo installation. The interior of NP 10 (Nolan Park, Building 10B) will be wrapped in indigo fabric. The inspiration for this project is the artist Christo who wraps various buildings and sites around the world. 

Culturally, indigo is linked to both West Africans and African Americans who were brought to the United States. Indigo became an important crop in America. The dyed fabric would be shipped to Northern states in America and then shipped to the clothing factories in England.

XOXO by Miguel Otero Fuentes

XOXO is an open heart made of two crossed circles. The concept was conceived during the 2020 lockdown and it is a symbol of connection, unity and love. A sculpture/performance installation installed in an outdoor area accessible to the general public. The sculpture may be programmed in collaboration with other organizations or artists as a stage for activities engaging local communities. Its demountable design facilitates storage, transportation, and installation of the sculpture almost anywhere in the world.

Photo credit: West Harlem Art Fund.

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