Upward with the Arts
New Artist Work Space in World Trade Center Part of Creative Surge in Lower Manhattan
Silver Art Projects, a public service project supported by Silverstein Properties(operator of the World Trade Center complex) is kicking off a new artist residency program at Three World Trade Center.
Under this initiative, dozens of artists (working across a broad range of media and disciplines) will be invited to share more than 40,000 square feet of free studio space on the tower’s 50th floor, which will be given over in its entirety to this program.
Co-founders Cory Silverstein and Joshua Pulman met while undergrads at George Washington University, and then followed separate careers paths — Mr. Silverstein into real estate (like his father, Larry) and Mr. Pulman into investment services. But they reunited last year to form Silver Art Projects, a corporate social responsibility organization sponsored by Silverstein Properties.
The organization is headquartered on the 50th floor of Three World Trade Center, and will host a rotating roster of 30 artists, beginning each September, for up to eight months. Participants (who will be given use of the space free of charge) will be selected through an annual open-call application process, moderated by a rotating jury of fellow artists, curators, and neighborhood leaders — based on a brief biographical statement, along with examples of their work. Residencies will begin this September, but artists who wish to participate must apply by July 31. Applications can be filed online at: www.silverart.com/home.
Through this program, Silver Art Projects aims to incubate an ongoing dialogue focused on contemporary art, within the Lower Manhattan community. The project comes at a time when fine and performing arts are flourishing at the World Trade Center complex, and throughout Downtown.
The current creative frisson began last summer, when Silverstein Properties and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (which owns the World Trade Center complex) partnered to invite a gaggle of street artists to cover 20,000 square feet of corrugated steel (on the exterior of utility sheds at Church and Vesey Streets — the future site of Two World Trade Center) with joyous graffiti murals.
The Port Authority has also sponsored a series of outdoor art pieces at the site, such as Rice Paddy — a living, growing installation that will incubate five varieties of rice between now and the Harvest Moon Festival in late September, when dozens of chefs will gather at the site to create unique, original dishes designed as an homage to rice.
While the Mural Project and Rice Paddy have been received with acclaim, not every such initiative inspired universal praise. In January, the Port Authority hastily removed an exhibit, entitled “Candy Nations,” created by French sculptor Laurence Jenkell. It consisted of 20 polyester resin simulacra in the shape of wrapped pieces of candy — each nine feet tall and weighing approximately 1,450 pounds. But the label around each piece, instead of bearing a brand name, was emblazoned with the flag of one member of the Group of 20 — a score of nations that meet annually to promote global economic stability.
But one of the member nations of the G20 is Saudi Arabia. Although this fact had never inspired controversy in any of the dozens of other sites where Candy Nations had been exhibited in the last eight years, a predictable furor erupted in January, when conservative websites discovered that the flag of the Muslim nation was being displayed at the site of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Further afield, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer recently sponsored a contest for designs to adorn the Hesco barriers now being installed as interim flood protection measures along the East River waterfront, near the South Street Seaport. These are a combination of heavy duty fabric liners, surrounding collapsible wire mesh containers, which are filled with sand, soil or gravel. Although highly regarded for their effectiveness in stopping rising water, Hesco barriers are seldom praised on aesthetic grounds. Ms. Brewer’s initiative seems likely to brighten up what would otherwise be a bland, utilitarian streetscape.
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