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The Condo

Charlie Hewitt. Image courtesy of Greenwich Arts Council

One of my favorite things about the High Line is the presence of public art throughout the year, in every season and in every form, media, and style.  Friends of the High Line committed itself from the very beginning to introducing the work of new artists as well as established ones, and the program — first run by Lauren Ross and today by Cecilia Alemani — has won awards and immense popularity from visitors.  The neighborhood the park traverses has long been a vibrant center of the arts, with visionary institutions — The Kitchen, Dia Art Foundation, Printed Matter, Exit Art — as well as hundreds (more than 400 at last official count) of commercial art galleries. The Whitney is building a new home, designed by Renzo Piano, at the southern end of the High Line, and Dia is constructing a large new exhibit space on 22nd Street. When those two projects are completed, the High Line’s neighborhood will arguably be the most important concentration of contemporary art in the United States.

The influence of the High Line’s art program will soon be visible in a new venue. On Mother’s Day the luxury rental complex known as Ten23, between 22nd & 23rd Street on Tenth Avenue, will install a piece of sculpture by the artist Charlie Hewitt. Called “Urban Rattle,” the work will stand some 20′ high in the center of the building’s patio, just below and on the eastern edge of the park. Hewitt is an American artist (born 1946) whose work includes paintings, sculpture, engraving, woodcuts, print-making and other media. His work has been acquired for collections in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, the Whitney, Brooklyn Museum, New York Public Library and the Library of Congress.

Emily Santangelo, the art consultant who arranged the project with Equity Residential, the building’s owner, describes it as “the first privately commissioned monumental sculpture to directly address the High Line and its community of visitors.” She says that Hewitt considers his work to be “doodles in steel,” and describes “Urban Rattle” as “playful and serious at the same time.” This seems a perfect combination, as the work will hover over the High Line’s lawn, a place of mixed use where children run, leap, and often screech with joy while adults read or engage in quiet conversation.

If you’d like to watch the installation, it will take place over the weekend, beginning on Saturday, May 12 and ending on Sunday afternoon. I’m told that the members of the FDNY’s (controversial) EMT station under the High Line will be lending a hand as the steel structure is unloaded and carried up to the patio.

As readers of this blog know, I documented the progress of Ten23 for almost three years as I was writing about the construction of section two of the High Line. The lawn — and the apartment complex — appear just outside my window, and were built in tandem. Photos of Hewitt’s piece will follow in a week or so. Meantime, here’s what it looks like today:

The High Line's Lawn and the Patio at Ten23

To learn more about the High Line’s public art program, visit the website of Friends of the High Line. To learn more about Charlie Hewitt, visit the author’s website or EmilyFineArt.com.


Re-planting Before the Storm

Once the scaffolding came down near the High Line’s lawn — it was there to protect visitors from construction debris at “Ten23,” the new condo on Tenth Avenue — there was work to be done in the garden beds. Most of the evergreen trees under the scaffold suffered badly from lack of sun and rain, and had to replaced. Early this morning the walkway got a power wash, and then the gardeners brought out the new trees and grasses. They paused for a thunder storm that rolled through at lunchtime, then got back to work.

Speaking of storms: Here’s what that section looked like on January 7 of last year:

With a hurricane bearing down on the east coast there’s more nature coming at us. Meantime, it’s a regular day on the High Line. If you’ve gotten used to having a spot to perch during bad weather, here’s a friendly reminder that there’s no place to take refuge from the rain now that the scaffolding is gone.


A Club Sandwich Made of Cement

The other day I looked out the window and gasped at the progress that has been made, seemingly overnight. The crew has already begun work on the fifth floor of the condo next door. Ann joined me at the window, glanced out, and replied: “yeah, it’s kind of like a club sandwich — nothing to it, really.”

Meanwhile (I feel compelled to say this…) all is quiet on the High Line. But hope springs eternal.