Downtown Alliance Launches New Public Art in Shadow of 4 World Trade Center

09/13/2011
Downtown Alliance Launches New Public Art in Shadow of 4 World Trade Center

Art lovers can now "walk" to "work" in Lower Manhattan. Only a few blocks from the international installation Walking Men 99 TM is the newest outdoor public art installation, Men At Work, wrapping the base of Silverstein Properties’ fast-rising 4 World Trade Center.

This week, Men At Work, which depicts nearly 150 iconic figures from street signs across the globe, was installed along 1,000 feet of construction parapets on the south and north sides of Liberty Street, between Greenwich and Church streets, stretching along the southern edge of the World Trade Center construction site.

Men At Work is the 28th art installation unveiled under the wildly popular Re:Construction program, which adorns construction sites in Lower Manhattan with whimsical, thoughtful and engaging pieces of art. Launched in 2007, Re:Construction is produced by the Downtown Alliance, and funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

"Re:Construction is an ongoing opportunity for government, artists, curators, property owners and business people to work together to make something beautiful," said Elizabeth H. Berger, President of the Downtown Alliance. "And what’s a better example than Men At Work. I encourage anyone who lives in, works in or visits Lower Manhattan to stop for just a moment and explore these wonderful pieces of art."

Men At Work , created by Maya Barkai, features figures from 148 cities, and is the second project in New York City from the Walking Men Worldwide Initiative TM. The installation offers a new look into the cultural presence of "Working Men"; these signs typically prevent passersby from entering active construction sites, thus becoming symbols of an environment being transformed and serving as a constant reminder of the never-ending process of urban renewal.

"Maya’s work captures the spirit of Lower Manhattan and New Yorkers’ enthusiasm for rebuilding the World Trade Center," said Larry A. Silverstein, President & CEO of Silverstein Properties, Inc. "It also pays tribute to the thousands of men and women involved in this historic effort."

The installation is several blocks away from the most celebrated piece within the Re:Construction collection, Barkai’s Walking Men 99 TM. Debuted in 2010, it is a site-specific installation that joins together 99 iconic pedestrian traffic light figures from cities around the world, a photographic collage stretching along 500 feet of plywood walls that form three street façades facing Church and Barclay streets and Park Place.

"To me, Walking Men Worldwide™ is an ongoing investigation into the fundamental components that together form our urban landscape as it evolves and changes over time," Barkai said. "Acknowledging the distinct silhouette of the „Working Man,‟ graphically coherent yet surprisingly versatile, is key to understanding its critical role in the creation of a safe, humanely oriented, modern environment. Taking the icons out of context of the local traffic sign and into a collage of unique cultural representations, leaves us to reveal their differences, and provokes the viewer to wonder about the way societies choose to embrace their visual graphic heritage."

The project was conceived as a collaborative effort of international photographers, each contributing a piece to the collage using an interactive platform created by Barkai. Learn more at www.walking-men.com.

Men At Work and Walking Men 99 TM were curated by Ayelet Danielle Aldouby and Elinor Milchan from Artea Projects. You can learn more about Artea Projects at www.arteaprojects.com.

Born in Jerusalem, Israel, Maya Barkai is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts’ Photography Department. Her photographs have been exhibited worldwide, and she is the recipient of the National Press Photographers Foundation Grant (2005), W Magazine’s Next Fashion Photographer’ showcase, as well as Penguin, Nerve, and Foam Magazine among other publications. Her most recent projects include Walking Men 99 in New York, Walking Men

PERMM, a public art installation in collaboration with the PERMM Museum of Contemporary Art in Russia, and Men At Work as part of the Bat Yam International Biennale for Landscape Urbanism in Israel. Learn more at www.mayabarkai.com.

About half of the 27 earlier temporary installations are still up for viewing in the area; several were installed in just the last few weeks, including:

Drift. Located at 24 John Street, this installation was created by artist Rita MacDonald, Drift uses patterns from architectural details as a starting point, beginning as flat images that stretch, arc and contort in space so that the optical effects of the pattern create illusions of movement and volume that push up against the flatness of the wall's surface. This was curated by Karin Bravin of BravinLee programs.

Sour Gum Tree: Seasonal Glory. Located at Nassau Street, between Spruce and Beekman streets, and at Fulton Street, between Pearl and Cliff streets, this work includes vivid photographs of six seasonal phases of a sour gum tree. This was curated by Karin Bravin of BravinLee programs.

Corbin Building. Last week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Downtown Alliance installed a large-scale rendering on the façade of the Corbin Building on Broadway. The mesh wrap is a standard construction netting, measuring 112-by-33 feet, that will have a printed image of the finished Corbin Building while MTA Capital Construction restores its façade, windows, roof, ground-floor entrances, storefronts and interior.

Half awake, half asleep. The Hudson Square Connection and Downtown Alliance installed Maki Kaoru’s half awake, half asleep at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s (LMCC) LentSpace, a temporary project made possible by a Trinity Real Estate development site at Varick and Canal streets in Hudson Square.

The Downtown Alliance additionally is establishing signage to help assist visitors to Lower Manhattan get where they are going. In the last several weeks, such wayfinding – featuring Downtown Alliance maps – has been installed at 26 Federal Plaza and 50 Trinity Place. The Downtown Alliance previously has installed wayfinding at Broadway and Dey Street, and Broadway and Fulton Street.

Previous Re:Construction projects – which you can learn more about at http://www.downtownny.com/programs/reconstruction – have been installed at:

  • Broadway and John Street: Corbin Building Architectural Rendering*
  • Canal and Varick Streets, LentSpace: half awake, half asleep*
  • 24 John Street: Drift*
  • 55 Liberty Street: Monk Parakeets with Mourning Doves and Red Wings*
  • Nassau and Fulton Streets: Sour Gum Tree: Seasonal Glory*
  • Hubert Street between Washington and Hudson Street: Aquatic Dream
  • Grand and Lafayette streets: Downtown Dogs*
  • 50 West Street: Life, Actually*
  • Hudson Street between Franklin Street and Ericsson Place: Star Sun Burst*
  • W Hotel New York – Downtown: Hours of the Day
  • Chambers Street: Secret Gardens*
  • Fiterman Hall: Restore the View*
  • Titanic Park, Fulton and Pearl streets: Water Movements
  • East River Waterfront Esplanade, South Street: Fence Embroidery with Embellishment*
  • 99 Church Street: Walking Men 99*
  • 56 Leonard Street: Rendering Leonard
  • West Thames Park, Battery Park City: It Takes Time to Turn a Space Around
  • Hudson River Park: Botanizing on the Asphalt*
  • 99 Washington Street: Flying Animals*
  • 50 Trinity Place: Poster Project at 50 Trinity
  • Louise Nevelson Plaza, Maiden Lane and William Street: Rainbow Conversation
  • AIG building, 175 Water Street: Green Gate, Summer
  • Street reconstruction site at Houston and Broadway: Houston Fence
  • Goldman Sachs headquarters, 200 West Street: Untitled
  • Fulton Street Transit Center, John Street at Broadway: Best Pedestrian Route
  • Fulton Street reconstruction site, between Broadway and Nassau: Fulton Fence
  • Fulton Street Transit Center, Broadway between Ann and John streets: Concrete Jungle

* Currently up for viewing

For more information on the Re:Construction program and high-resolution images of the projects, click here. For a video of the Fulton Street Re:Construction installation, visit the Alliance’s YouTube channel.

The Alliance for Downtown New York also recently issued a State of Lower Manhattan report, at www.downtownny.com/solm, providing a comprehensive review of Lower Manhattan’s remarkable economic and demographic changes and major leasing, development, and market trends over the last 10 years.

Lower Manhattan’s extraordinary growth and momentum additionally is being showcased in a new video featuring New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. The feature highlights Lower Manhattan’s history, heritage and culture while promoting top area businesses and unparalleled neighborhood amenities. You can watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GJ7urgEWIk.