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An Urban Biotope Looms Large in Queens

By Peggy Roalf   Tuesday May 25, 2010

The fourth weekend of May took me by bicycle to Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. Located next to Hallet's Cove, and opposite Roosevelt Island, the 4.5-acre site has a special allure for urbanites. Beyond its panoramic riverfront views and, of course the sculpture on display, it's peripheral plantings, with their built-in watering system, are almost a live catalog of native plants.

With that in mind, the title of the Summer 2010 exhibition, Cityscape: Surveying the Urban Biotope, seems like a natural. Curated by Alyson Baker and Marichris Ty, the show explores the presence of nature in the fabric of urban life. Cityscape includes eleven new works by artists: Saul Becker, George Boorujy, William Cordova, David Kennedy Cutler, Lillian Gerson, Janelle Iglesias, Katherine McLeod, Ester Partegas, Zena Verda Pesta, Christine Howard Sandoval, and Mark Lawrence Stafford.

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Left:Geologies, Cosmologies, Apologies, (Transplants) by David Kennedy Cutler. Right: Facade by Christine Howard Sandoval. Photos: Peggy Roalf.

On wheeling into the park, I was met by a jagged wall that appeared to be solidly built of stone. The untitled piece, by William Cordova, revealed it's deception as I walked around to the other side, where the simulated monumentality of its form collapsed into a zig-zag facade of particle board.

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Untitled by William Cordova. Photos: Peggy Roalf.

In the middle of the open space is another large-scale piece by Christine Howard Sandoval, aptly titled Facade. From a distance, you notice its construction from 2 x 4's and the colorful billboards cut up into interesting shapes that form its walls; close up, it looks completely different; in a photograph, it becomes something else again.

Across the way is a piece by David Kennedy CutlertitledGeologies, Cosmologies, Apologies, (Transplants). While I was giving it a close look, two people familiar with the artist's work came along and were able to offer some insight on the materials that comprise the four pieces in the group. It is made up of discarded materials, including CDs, CD covers, inkjet prints and Plexiglas that are embedded in epoxy resin. The cutout shapes of the crowning liths are translucent, in a pale shade of aquamarine that seem to absorb and reflect the watery atmosphere of the East River and the stormy sky.

Cityscape: Surveying the Urban Biotope is on view at Socrates Sculpture Park through August 1st. 32-01 Vernon Boulevard at Broadway, Long Island City (Queens), NY. 718-956-1819 Please visit the website for information and directions.

Over the weekend of June 4-6, 2010, Socrates Sculpture Park, in collaboration with Alan Wanzenberg Architect / Design, The Noguchi Museum, and R 20th Century, will present the second annual Makers Market, an open air marketplace featuring a curated selection of skillfully crafted products. The Market will be presented in a series of large tents, situated within the Cityscape exhibition, at Socrates Sculpture Park. Please visit the website for more information.

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