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ArtBridge and Atlantic Yards: art spruces up some construction fencing (and we remember some history)

It is surely an improvement over dull monolithic construction fence around the Atlantic Yards arena block, and there are some excellent individual pieces of art in the installation Works in Progress, curated by ArtBridge, which has the worthy aim of sprucing up construction sites.

Still, it was a little strange yesterday to be standing on Dean Street listening to the heads of ArtBridge--Founder Rodney Durso and Director Jordana Zeldin--describe their efforts, with the nearest backdrop a fanciful vision of wild animals.

(Photos and set by Tracy Collins. I cropped the photo at left.)

After all, the north side of Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenues, now the southern border of the arena block, used to be a modest but sturdy Brooklyn street, as Collins's montage shows. (Note that the arena's about three times as tall as the tallest building in the photo below left.)

On Dean Street

In the video below, Zeldin and Durso describe how ArtBridge began, and how this project, involving 20 Brooklyn-based artists, represents a significant step for ArtBridge, which typically works on smaller sidewalk bridges.

As for the "Works in Progress" theme, Zeldin explained, "We were hoping to get artists, through their work, to address the artistic process."

Some 200 artists submitted entries, a sign of the number of artists in Brooklyn and the hunger for exposure.

I said I'd heard a few chose not to apply, because of the controversial nature of the project. "I live in Clinton Hill," Zeldin responded. "We're very aware of the controversy. The fact is: this is being built, and it exists. And the very mission of our organization is to go to construction sites, which nobody likes to see in their neighborhood, and try to enliven them. I can't say 'beautify,' because that's subjective, but certainly enliven them."

Also, Zeldin announced that artist Gregory Hayes won the curator's award; in the video, Hayes also describes his work, which is pictured in the second video below.

On Flatbush Avenue

Below, a view of work on Flatbush Avenue, and a few more words from Hayes (whose work is in the YouTube still photo).

On Dean Street

Below, a view of the artwork (as well as sponsor credits for the arena) on Sixth Avenue north of Dean Street.

The FCR relationship

ArtBridge received a $15,000 curatorial fee from Forest City Ratner, but, according to Zeldin, the developer otherwise was encouraging and hands-off, not asking to vet the theme nor any of the artworks chosen.

Labor was donated by United Hoisting and Scaffolding, thanks to the enthusiasm for the project from VP Joe Covello, who suggested that ArtBridge contact Forest City.

The installation will be up through next March or April.


  1. Nice art can hide scaffolding, and I'm glad it does in this case.

    But no amount of art can hide the corruption and subversion of democracy that has resulted in the "Barclays Center of Brooklyn" construction site.


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