NYC Parks Opens Jorge Luis Rodriguez Public Artworks
NYC Parks is pleased to present a series of five temporary public art installations by artist Jorge Luis Rodríguez in Tompkins Square Park and East Harlem Art Park in Manhattan. The Oracle of the Past, Present and Future in the East Village and Birdhouse, Fish Spine, Hummingbird and Palenque in Harlem celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Growth, Rodríguez's large-scale, permanent work that was New York City's first Percent for Art Project. A public celebration of the exhibits will take place in East Harlem Art Park on Saturday, June 20 from 12:00 p.m. through 6:00 p.m.
Beginning Saturday June 6th, his new piece The Oracle of the Past, Present and Future will be located on the lawn just inside Tompkins Square Park at St. Mark's Place and Avenue A. The 12-foot-tall structure consists of geometric interlocking parts with elements of steel, wood, glass, and a magnificent dome that adds to its mystical symbolism. The work is inspired by the study of celestial bodies: the influence of the sun, moon, planets and zodiac constellations on human affairs and the natural world. Rodriguez invites the public to consider the mysteries of astrology and engage in contemplation and inner reflection while walking through the sculpture.
Starting June 20th, four sculptures will accompany his permanent sculpture Growth at the East Harlem Art Park at 120th Street and Sylvan Place. "I have tried to capture the interaction between trees, birds, insects, flowers, and man. My sculpture may portray a seed sprouting from the ground, an insect transforming into a flower, or a bird changing into a tree. I hope to create an art piece that will serve as a source of enjoyment and inspiration to the community," stated Rodríguez about Growth in 1985 when the sculpture was cast. These additional artworks echo his original concept as they emerge from different areas of the park.
Birdhouse, Fish Spine, Hummingbird and Palenque are prior works that are on view for the first time. He created these works shortly after Growth, and they equally represent Rodríguez's interest in nature and the cultural exchange derived from travel to different countries. They are fabricated in painted welded steel, one of his favored techniques, and stand between seven and nine feet tall.
Birdhouse, 1986. Pablo Neruda's poem "Las aves maltratadas," ("The Brutalized Birds") references the conduct of birds that assemble en masse in public places. They perch, nest and produce their offspring in an array of environments. Their survival is affected by the behavior of mankind, as well as the forces of nature.
Fish Spine, 1987. Rodríguez's recollection of fishing adventures in the Caribbean Sea with his brother is captured in this simple elongated spine: assembling nets, preparing bait, casting, celebrating their catch and the final act of consumption that left behind only a vestige of the delectable sea creature.
Hummingbird, 1987. The symbiotic relationship between fauna and flora is captured in this swift, frozen moment that depicts the bird's constant hovering while it extracts substance from nature in a movement so rapid that it appears motionless.
Palenque, 1987. The sculpture is inspired by Mayan architectural devices used to record the passing of celestial events. The interplay of openings in the "roof comb" of buildings, such as those observed in Palenque, allowed for the recording of light and shadow that provide essential markers utilized in daily life activities such as for the planting of crops and understanding of patterns of astronomical phenomena.
"Having visited the ruins of ancient oracles, pyramids and temples at Delphi, Egypt and Yucatán, I began to document their significance and experiment with the symbolic geometric combinations employed in their construction," said artist, Rodríguez. "I concentrated on the idea of bringing these concepts into the present time and reviving the tradition of a pilgrimage to an outdoor structure to engage in inner reflection. My research led to the creation of a prominent edifice for a public space. Upon completing the journey to the center of 'The Oracle of the Past, Present and Future' at Tompkins Square Park, visitors can contemplate the zodiac, constellations and colored glass accents in its magnificent steel dome; behold the shadows these cast; ponder the symbology before them and become inspired by the wonderful possibilities that await."
Jorge Luis Rodríguez was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and is a distinguished artist based in New York City. He holds a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and completed a graduate degree at New York University. He taught art in the CUNY system and the School of Visual Arts and has been a visiting Professor and American cultural specialist abroad. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including; Studio Museum in Harlem, El Museo del Barrio and Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Arts, NY; Maryland Art Institute, MD; Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, PR, Palazzo Grassi, IT; Manes Gallery, CZ, among others. Reviews of his installations, artistic merit and contributions are documented by the Smithsonian Institute and in publications such as The World History of Art, Mixed Blessings: New Art in a Multicultural America, The Guide to Manhattan's Outdoor Sculpture, Artforum, The Village Voice and The New York Times, to name a few. He is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Creative Artist Public Service. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem State Office Building, NYC Percent for Art Collection, USDA Forest Service, and NYC Department of Education.
Rodríguez has a longstanding record of public art. Following, Growth, the first Percent for Art project completed in New York City in 1985, he designed The Tree of Knowledge located at P.S.128M in Washington Heights. Art Across the Park, Noah's Art, Irons in the Fire and Angels and Wings are outdoor exhibitions in NYC parks that have included his temporary sculptures.
NYC Parks' Art in the Parks program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, collaborations with arts organizations and artists have produced hundreds of public art projects in New York City parks. For more information visit www.nyc.gov/parks/art.