2016 is going out with a bang, filled with not only our annual holiday favorites like Luminaries in the Winter Garden, and the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show, but some installations that will bring us closer to nature, from Brooklyn and the Bronx to Staten Island. The art world continues to explore and enhance our urban environment in the ways we grow and eat our food, and how we design for play.

This month, you can explore the art of being a woman, as a kick-off to a permanent home to be named The Women’s Building. Pay homage to the men, women and children who succumbed to AIDS at a permanent Memorial site on World AIDS Day, and the doors will open to a permanent home for the GrowNYC’s Project Farmhouse. Here are 21 art installations, exhibits and projects not to miss in December, and on into the New Year.

21. AIDS Memorial Park Unveiled for World AIDS Day

The AIDS Memorial Park is located near the former St. Vincent’s Hospital, at the intersection of West 12th Street and Greenwich Avenue, a block from the LGBT Community Center. It will be completed in time for an unveiling coinciding with World AIDS Day, December 1st, with a Dedication from 11 am-1 pm.

Created by a coalition of artists, health care providers, and historians, and inspired by two young urban planners, New York City will finally have an AIDS Memorial. The AIDS Memorial Park will honor the more than 100,000 New York City men, women and children who succumbed to the disease. The project began with a design competition in November, 2011, launched by the NYC AIDS Memorial and chaired by Michael Arad, the designer of the National September 11 Memorial. Nearly 500 architects from around the world submitted. The winner was Studio a+, based in Brooklyn, with the Memorial’s granite pavers to be designed by visual artist Jenny Holzer, adding selections from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself.

20. New York Made: Stanton Street Courts on the Lower East Side

New York Made: Stanton Street Courts was designed by Brooklyn-based artist Brian Donnelly, also known as KAWS, who moved to Manhattan in 1996 and lived on the corner of Clinton and Stanton Street. The installation encompasses two side-by-side, full basketball courts and four hoops. New York Made: Stanton Street Courts will be on view to November 16, 2017, located at the Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Christie Street and Forsyth Street on the Lower East Side.

19. New York Dreaming at Fulton Center Shows NYC in Kaleidoscope

A new large scale video installation from MTA Arts & Design has been unveiled at Fulton Center, showing New York City’s architecture akin to a kaleidoscope. The work, New York Dreaming, by media artist Anne Spalter, is described as a “meditation on the city and the constant self-realization of its physical and psychic existence.” With a strong focus on architecture, Spalter takes the New York City skyline and uses a custom software to turn these images into something psychedelic.

The film plays on loop but only for two minutes at the beginning of each hour. You can find it on the large-screen inside the Fulton Center Oculus and in the Dey Street pedestrian tunnel until the beginning of 2017.

18. Gingerbread Boulevard Installation in Madison Square Park


As part of the Madison Square Park Holiday Celebrations, Gingerbread Boulevard will arrive in Madison Square Park on December 6th, for its third season, as a kick-off to its Holiday Festivities.

The free event will feature a life-size gingerbread house, with ginger bricks, topped with a frosting covered roof. peppermiint sticks, gum drops and all manner of other trimmings adorning the exterior – and all are invited to come in, where visitors will find a holiday mantel (sponsored by Folgers), and a digital screen that displays consumer-submitted photos that use the hashtag #holidayheritage.
The tasty installation is presented by Taste of Home, a food and entertaining brand, and will be on view to December 18. The Madison Square Park Holiday Festivities will begin on December 6, with the opening of Gingerbread Boulevard from and the lighting of a 40 foot balsam fir at Madison Square Park is located between Fifth and Madison Avenues, 23rd and 26th Streets.

17. New York At Its Core at the Museum of the City of New York


Four years in the making, the Museum of the City of New York brings 400 years of history to the permanent exhibit New York At its Core. The installation, which opened in November, is placed on the entire first floor of the museum, split into three galleries, which take the viewer from Port City in 1609 to World City, beginning in 1898, and finally to Future City Lab – the largest gallery, that deals with the challenges and opportunities yet to come. Much of Future City Lab is interactive, giving visitors a way to participate in shaping the future using interactive tools. The exhibit celebrates what makes New York great, including its diversity, but also explores its darker side, such as the former slave trade and various financial crisis. New York At Its Core, an ongoing exhibit, is located at the Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street. Read our review of the exhibit here.

16. Women: New Portraits on Exhibit at the Former Bayview Correctional Facility


With a great deal of anticipation, Annie Leibovitz’s worldwide (10 city) tour of Women: New Portraits has arrived in New York. Opening last week, the UBS sponsored exhibit consists of newly commissioned photographs taken by Leibovitz, in collaboration with Susan Sontag. Women: New Portraits is meant to reflect changes in the roles of women today, with photographs of well-known artists, musicians, CEO’s, politicians, writers and philanthropists.

The setting of the exhibit was as monumental as the exhibit itself, located in the gym of the former Bayview Correctional Facility, across the street from Chelsea Piers, which has been closed since Superstorm Sandy. This renowned exhibit is a kick-off to plans for this building as the future home of what will be named The Women’s Building.

Women: New PortraitsThe Exhibit is located in the gym of the former Bayview Correctional Facility

honor-floor-of-the-bayview-correctional-facility-untapped-cities-afinelyneA row of cells on the Honor Floor of the former Bayview Correctional Facility

The Women’s Building will be a global hub for the girl’s and women’s rights movement, through the efforts of the NoVo Foundation, a philanthropy created by Jennifer and Peter Buffett in 2006, and is expected to be completed in 2020. We were fortunate to meet one of the women previously incarcerated at the facility, who told us that once completed, the Women’s Building will employ former prisoners of the Bayview facility. The free exhibit, Women: New Portraits will be on view to December 11, 2016, located at 550 West 20th Street.

Check out 13 of NYC’s active prisons which you may not have noticed in your neighborhood.

15. Drift Under the Archway in DUMBO

The DUMBO Archway will receive a unique installation on December 1st entitled Drift, by DUMBO-based artist Leonard Ursachi, who you might remember from his installation Fatboy in Prospect Park. The artist believes that each of the seven pieces that make up this installation started life as one large tree on the banks of the East River. The seven-piece installation is made up of cement casts, with a platform made from the original old pier that use to be at the end of the Anchorage. Drift was created in Ursachi’s 700 square foot studio, just blocks away on Plymouth Street. Opening Reception for Drift will be held on December 1st from 6-7 pm. Drift will be on view in the 7,000 square foot DUMBO Archway, under the Manhattan Bridge, through March, 2017.

14. Chill in a Hammock During 23 Days of Holiday Cheer at The Flatiron


Each year, we look forward to following the competition held by the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership‘s annual 23 Days of Flatiron Cheer. This year, the winner of the competition was the LOT Architecture and Design Firm’s Flatiron Sky-Line, a series of ten large contiguous arches with suspended hammocks. The hammocks, which light up in the evening, have seen a lot of activity since its opening this month. No matter what the temperature, you’ll find New Yorkers swinging. Flatiron Sky-Line will be up for 23 days for your lounging pleasure, with associated programming throughout the month.

13. The Holiday Train Show Pulls into the New York Botanical Garden


The Holiday Train Show has arrived at the New York Botanical Garden. This annual holiday tradition opened on November 19th, with a display of 150 recreated landmarks in the Haupt Conservatory. This year, look for the new Queensboro Bridge, and a tribute to the Coney Island Amusement Park. Bar Car Nights will be held all season, after hours inside the installation building. The Holiday Train Show and related activities will be on view to January 16, 2017 at the New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx.

12. By the People – Designing a Better America at Cooper Hewitt

The Cooper Hewitt exhibit By the People: Designing a Better America, is an exhibition of 60 collaborative designs challenging the country’s social and economic inequality, and presenting designs for more inclusive and sustainable communities. In this quest to show how design can act as a catalyst for positive action, viewers investigate how listening, and valuing local community expertise can be essential as a catalyst for positive action.

As we took a closer look at the 60 designs, we spotted some familiar images, such as the Harlem Hospital Pavilion Facade, with its historically significant mural, which replicates three panels from a Works Progress Administration (WPA) depicting scenes from the African diaspora. And Red Hook WIFI, the wireless mesh network that was the primary communication stream for residents of the area when the internet failed after Superstorm Sandy.

The exhibit also includes such topics as designs for What is Affordable Housing, a Tool Kit for Affordable Housing, Rent Regulation Rights Posters, Mobile Markets and SEEDclassrooms. By the People: Designing a Better America will be on view through February 26, 2017 at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, located at 2 East 91st Street.

11. Beyond the Edge at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza

Five colorful sculptures, collectively entitled Beyond the Edge, arrived at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. Created by Hamptons-based artist, Phyllis Hammond, the whimsical sculptures named (from L-R), Tempo, Alien Flying, Gateway, and Sign of Freedom, rotate in the wind. The steel and aluminum pieces are a product of Ms. Hammond’s playful doodles on paper, refined digitally, and turned into metal shapes. Beyond the Edge will be on view to April 16, 2017 at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, located on Second Avenue between 47th-48th Streets.

Phylis Hammond sculptures 11-4-16

10. World’s Largest Exhibit of Origami Elephants Invade the Bronx Zoo

The world’s largest exhibit of Origami elephants are on display at the Bronx Zoo in a unique and colorful attempt to bring attention to poaching. The small Origami elephants were created by people from all over the United States and 40 countries, totaling over 204,000 Origami elephants – more than 78,000 on display to “save elephants from extinction by ending the ivory trade.” The display is the largest collection of Origami elephants in one place, earning it recognition by the Guinness Book of World Records.

You can view Origami Elephants through the month of December, as part of the Bronx Zoo’s Holiday Celebration, including a piece by the artist behind the American Museum of Natural History’s Origami Holiday Tree. The Bronx Zoo is located at 2300 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx.

9. GrowNYC Introduces Project Farmhouse, a Permanent Home

GrowNYC, which originated in 1970 as the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC), has established 54 greenmarkets around the city, including the well-known Union Square Market and built 70 community gardens. The organization also created Youthmarkets, installed fresh food box pick-ups, recycle programs in all five boroughs, and provides 30,000 children each year with programs which educate them about our relationship with a natural environment – all of this without a permanent facility.

Now, GrowNYC will finally have a permanent home with the opening of Project Farmhouse, to be located at 76 East 13th Street, next to the Hyatt Hotel, with an anticipated opening date during the month of December.

Project Farmhouse will offer free public programming hosted by GrowNYC, in partnership with other organizations and regular guest programming. They will have a commercial kitchen with kitchen classes for kids and adults, farmer workshops, volunteer training, and act as a hub for cultivating and strengthening our connection to our land and our community. The new facility will also serve as an event space for rentals.

8. The Double Doily Bench Arrives on Jackson Avenue

Double Doily arrived on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, just blocks away from the new installation, The Sunbather. Created by artist, Jennifer Cecere, Double Doily is as its name suggests – in the image of a doily – giving it what the artist calls “a domestic feel in an urban environment, integrating domestic handiwork into the built environment.”  Made out of water-jet aluminum, the bench is ten feet wide by five feet tall, and is double-sided and placed at an angle. Double Doily will be on view through November 17, 2017 at PS1 Greenstreet, Jackson Avenue and 46th Avenue in Queens.

7. The Art Students League Collaborative Sculpture Arrives in Van Cortlandt Park

As part of the Art Students League of New York Model to Monument Program (M2M), the installation entitled ….and We Breath is the creation of all seven M2M sculptors, who each currently have an installation on display at Riverside Park. This year’s theme is The Public Square, and in keeping with the theme, each artist presents an interpretation of this idea. This is the sixth year of the M2M Program in Riverside Park and Van Cortlandt Park. …and We Breath will be on view through September 15, 2017 in Van Cortlandt Park.

6. A Little Oil Well Arrives on the Lower East Side

Little Oil Well sculpture, lower east side

Little Oil Well by the Hoboken-based sculpture artist Martin Ramona Delossantos arrived in the tiny Ahearn Park on the Lower East Side. Situated across from the Henry Street Settlement, it is only the second installation ever placed in this park. Created from found metal objects, the sculpture is made to represent an abstraction of an oil well, and seemed to be a well-received addition by the locals who frequent the park. Little Oil Well will be on view to January 24, 2017.

5r. Spirit of New York City Sculpture in The Hoop Garden at Carl Schurz Park

in Carl Schurz Park 11-4-16

Spirit of New York City by Japanese artist Yasumitsu Morito sits just above the Hoope Garden at Carl Schurz Park. The sculpture is set on a vessel symbolizing our cities melting pot, and is meant to reflect serene contemplation amidst the combustion of our city. While we were there, viewers were having a great deal of fun taking selfies with the new installation. Morito, who teaches ceramic sculpture at the Art Students League, was one of the 2014 M2M artists in Riverside Park. His sculpture is part of the Art in the Parks program, bringing experimental and traditional art to our parks. Spirit of New York City will be on view through April 25, 2017, located near the 87th Street entrance.

4. Telling the Story of Two Parks, Tree Reflections Grow on Staten Island

The artist Susan Stair is known for creating portraits of trees through her artwork. Pressing clay onto living trees, she records their species, age and strength. The main components of her current installation entitled Tree Reflections are cast from the Osage Orange tree, found near her home in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. She was attracted to this species because of its patterns, bending forms, and endurance, demonstrating its unique historical importance.

Her new installation, Tree Reflections, located at Conference House Park Visitor Center on Staten Island, is a series of clay tiles cast from two Osage Orange trees, combined with mosaic pieces that tell the story of the two parks. In addition, an exhibition of Stair’s work is in the Conference House Park Visitor Center’s Lenape Gallery, as part of Native American Heritage Month. The park will also offer a solstice walk for Native American Thanksgiving on December 18 at 12:30pm. Tree Reflections will be on view through October 14, 2017. Conference House Park Visitor Center is located at 298 Satterlee Street on Staten Island.

3. The Sunbather on Jackson Avenue in Queens


The Jackson Avenue Streetscape Project recently introduced the colorful installation The Sunbather, through its Percent for Art Program. This much debated and long-awaited, eye-popping, bubblegum pink installation, stands nine-feet high at the intersection of 43rd Avenue and Jackson Avenue in Long Island City. It is a permanent installation commissioned by the Department of Cultural Affairs.

2. ISCP Presents Martine Gutierrez: JEANS in the Garment District

The International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP) unveiled Martine Gutierrez: JEANS as an offsite project located at the Southeast corner of 9th Avenue and 37th Street. The 10-foot high by 22-foot wide advertising billboard is an image of the artist posing as a model, and wearing a fictitious brand of denim jeans. The artist, Martine Gutierrez, acts as a subject in her work in an attempt to investigate personal and collective identity, through the guise of makeup, costume and pose. A dedication event will be held on December 13th from 11 am-12 pm.

The billboard will be on view from December 5, 2016 through January 1, 2017 and located at 9th Avenue and 37th Street, adjacent to the Lincoln Tunnel, a block away from the Jordan Baker-Caldwell installation, Ascension.

1. Luminaries Light Up the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place

In true holiday spirit, the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place will light up with the installation, Luminaries. This annual holiday light installation designed by LAB at Rockwell Group, turns the glass enclosed space into a canopy of suspended, glowing lanterns. In partnership with the GRAMMY Museum, Arts Brookfield will donate $1 up to $25,000, for every wish made at any of the three Luminaries wishing stations. Related light shows and programming will be held throughout the installation. Luminaries will be on view to January 29, 2017, located at Brookfield Place, 230 Vesey Street.

Next, check out more outdoor art installations from last month that are still viewable, like the return of the Astor Place Cube and more. Give a gift of one of the many Untapped Cities Tours this Holiday Season. You can contact the author at AFineLyne.