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sarah sze

Arial view of Sarah Sze's "Still Life With Landscape"

Last week I received an email from a high school student in Bangladesh named Tinni Bhattacharyya. There, nearly 8,000 miles from 21st Street on Manhattan island, she has launched a campaign to make Sarah Sze’s sculpture “Landscape With Still Life” a permanent fixture on the High Line.

Tinni created a Facebook page for the campaign, where she writes:

Sze’s installation has become an integral part of the Highline’s ecosystem. Sze’s installation has evolved from an architectural frame to an organic living environment that is embedded in the ecosystem. While “Still Life with Landscape, Model for a Habitat” has been scheduled to be taken down on June 8th 2012, this campaign has been launched to preserve Sze’s piece in order to support the community of animals it has founded.

Tinni was born in New Delhi, but her father is a diplomat and so she grew up all over the world — in Belgium, China, Japan, and now Bangladesh. She first saw the High Line last summer when she was interning in New York. She told me that she had the opportunity to spend some time working in Sarah Sze’s studio, where she witnessed the process behind the creation of Sze’s pieces and came to understand the concepts the artist explores in her work. Tinni is motivated by the beauty of the artwork as well as its success as a habitat for many kinds of birds and insects. And her campaign is well underway; the Facebook page is fast accumulating comments, photos, and Likes.

I hope that Tinni succeeds. “Still Life With Landscape” is one of my favorite exhibits in the High Line’s public art program. Its Palladian lines and geometric shapes are strikingly, quietly, beautiful and even more, it brings the birds close to us, just inches away. In a big city with too many humans, this is a small blessing.

For more about Sarah Sze, visit the artist’s website. Go here to learn more about the High Line’s public art program. Join Tinni’s campaign on Facebook, here.



Barbie on the High Line

Sarah Sze’s “Still Life with Landscape” is one my favorite exhibitions on the High Line. As readers of this blog know, I tend to get sentimental about certain exhibits, notably Stephen Vitiello’s “A Bell For Every Minute,” which I still miss. But the point of the public art program is that new works continually appear, and in order for that to happen, old favorites have to come down.

Sze’s work has been attracting birds, butterflies, bees, and humans in huge numbers since it debuted on opening day of section two last year. Even the occasional dog stops by to have a sniff (see photo gallery). Barbie selected Sze’s piece from all of New York City’s landmarks as the location for her latest fashion shoot.

I’ve been photographing “Still Life” all year, jostling amongst the many tourists who stop, in surprise and delight, as soon as they reach it. I love the architectural quality of this piece; it makes the perfect bird feeder, but it also frames several standout buildings with its boxy pattern of steel girders:  London Towers, General Theological Seminary, the Empire State Building, the Guardian Angel Church.  Most wonderful of all, it brings the birds up close. Even New York’s pigeon population — normally happy to perch on a prosaic lamppost — has discovered Sze’s work, along with the sparrows, mourning doves, and other feathered friends.

Mourning Dove

The piece comes down at the end of June, so be sure to pay a visit between now and then. To learn more about Sarah Sze and her work visit SarahSze.com. Check out the gallery to see more photos.


The Shy Birds of High Line

A quite wonderful thing is happening on the High Line in section two: the birds are really flocking to Sarah Sze’s sculpture.

But they’re shy, at least during the daytime when thousands of people are passing by, sticking camera lenses into their little wooden houses and offering good, old-fashioned New York City food critiques of their bird seed. However, once you approach the exhibit you start hearing this chorus of chirping, and if you look around in the grass and stone mulch you can see them hopping around. I caught this mourning dove today, but there were lots of sparrows too, as well as butterflies who were enjoying the fruit that has been left for them.

I marvel that there’s this habitat just outside my window and am reminded, again, at what “Keep it wild” really means.


Secret Dogs on the High Line

It’s every dog’s dream to visit the High Line. Some people — and I love this about New York — are just undeterred. My dog Bucky weighs 55 pounds so there’s no way I’m going to stuff him underneath my suit jacket for an afternoon of flâneur. But these bold High Line visitors were not going to deny their best friend a view of Manhattan from thirty feet up. (For more dogs, see here.)

I say bravo. If a jazz band can storm the plantings for a photo opp and Barbie can pose in a piece of sculpture (by a MacArthur Genius Award winner, no less) then a couple of small dogs is hardly worth mentioning. But I couldn’t resist.




Readers of this blog know that I have been mourning the impending loss of Stephen Vitiello’s “A Bell For Every Minute” exhibit, which comes down on June 20th.  But you can be consoled by a very cool exhibit in the new section of the park — at around 21st Street — by the artist Sarah Sze. There’s a way in which this is a “living” exhibit: there are trays with seeds to attract birds and orange and apple slices to attract butterflies. And the little bird houses in the sky make a nice contrast to the sturdy human abodes that you can see in the distance, through the exhibit — the stately water towers of the Lincoln Towers apartment building and the Empire State Building.

I caught this fella, a house wren, early this morning. If you were a bird, isn’t this where you’d want to be?