2. Socrates Sculpture Park
Rock n Roll, Photograph by Scott Lynch, Courtesy of Socrates Sculpture Park
The Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria is situated right on the East River across from Roosevelt Island. Founded in 1986 by sculptor Mark di Suvero, the park features works from both local and internationally acclaimed artists. The vast majority of the park’s artworks were commissioned and built on-site at their outdoor studio art space, which would allow visitors to see the art-making process. The park has no permanent collection, but all past exhibitions are available on their website.
Through the end of spring, the park is home to two exhibits: The Socrates Annual, and Broadway Billboard: “To the Avengers of the New World.” The former features commissions made by artists awarded with the “Socrates Annual” fellowship. Works range from Jesus Benavente’s ‘I Still Remember You Mijo (Votive Vela),’ featuring the title phrase surrounded by a pair of wings in red, to Paul Kopkau’s ‘Yard Shadow: Nokia’ & ‘Yard Shadow: Samsung,’ steel outlines of technology.
According to the park’s website, “Ranging from fantastical to anecdotal to pedagogical, this year’s artists use a variety of narrative strategies. Several artist projects examine storytelling’s many material manifestations, from an homage to a Native American myth in which North America exists on a turtle’s back to a suggestion that a giant has fallen asleep under the Park’s blanket of grass, its exposed nose becoming refuge for a wandering monitor lizard.”
The other exhibit is a billboard made by artist Dread Scott and considers the impact and legacy of slave rebellions led by figures like Gabriel Prosser and Denmark Vesey. Each name is followed by an ampersand, and a flame at the bottom right corner “suggests both the intensity and power of these leader’s battles against oppression and memorializes their stories.”
In the summer, the park will be releasing a new exhibit titled “MONUMENTS NOW,” with new commissions for contemporary monuments by Jeffrey Gibson, Paul Ramírez Jonas, and Xaviera Simmons. The exhibition will commemorate the narratives of underrepresented communities, such as Indigenous, queer, and diasporic groups.