About the Exhibition
Edgar Heap-of-Birds, Native Hosts
A series of six white-and-red aluminum signs mounted on sections of orange angle fencing is placed around City Hall Park. Native Hosts by Edgar Heap-of-Birds (b.1954, Wichita, KS) created signs bearing a greeting that announces one of six Native American Indian tribes (Seneca, Tuscarora, Mohawk, Werpoe, Shinnecock, and Manhattan) as host for the day. For example, “New York, Today your host is Werpoe.” The artist would like to call our attention to the many existing Indian nations whose
people live and work in the New York area.
Christopher Hewat, Municipal Object
The power of the obelisk—its familiarity as well as its most common associations with grandeur, triumph and death—has entranced Christopher Hewat (b.1949, New York City, NY) and inspired his latest work. Municipal Object is an intense exploration of the obelisk form, from realistic to theatrical. The sculptures are large monuments viewed in the round. In this exhibition, Hewat has fenced the objects, creating a sanctuary devoted to memory and inviting the viewer to contemplate mortality without specific grief.
Following his last exhibition of inlaid wood screens, Hewat returns to his interest in cemetery architecture, which he first expressed in human-size shields resembling “coffin-lids.” With artful woodworking skills and an unerring intuition for classical proportion, Hewat has created dignified geometric objects that claim space dramatically and emotionally. Hewat patinas the hollow spires—which are made from hemlock, maple and tulip—with sensuous marks and warm elegant color. Surrounding each monolith and protecting its spirit are delicate fences detailed with finely shaped filigree ornaments.
Reflecting an aesthetic predilection of his generation, Hewat is drawn to geometry, which allows him to push the expressive power of texture, color and form against a formal structure. With his choice of an ancient subject as the armature for his work, Hewat appears to accept both the ambiguity and the challenge of recreating historical form in contemporary art.
Margia Kramer, Obelisk, for Raymond Williams
Margia Kramer’s Obelisk, for Raymond Williams is a partially open, twelve-foot-tall, rusticated wooden pyramid. The upper portion of the pyramid is constructed of Plexiglas panels, with an “oculus” at the point where these four clear “pediments” meet. The word “revolution” is spelled out in segments on the inside faces of the Plexiglas panels. Kramer (b.1936, USA) explains that her sculpture is “based on the obelisk by Paul Revere, and the liberty poles built on The Commons in 1766, which marked the repeal of the British Stamp Act and the start of the American Revolution. It is dedicated to a contemporary British thinker who wrote about the long revolution against tyranny.”
Thomas Lawson, Civic Virtue/Civic Rights
Civic Virtue/Civic Rights by Thomas Lawson (b.1951, Glasgow, Scotland) is a three-panel disk-like structure placed on the former site of Frederick MacMonnie’s 1919 sculpture, Civic Virtue. It combines images of that sculpture, and of the Nathan Hale and Horace Greeley statues (also found in City Hall Park) with text panels bearing the phrases “civic virtues” and “civil rights.” Lawson says, “I envisage creating a situation that will encourage people to consider the public discourse on civic virtues and civil rights as it is represented in public sculpture, and to reflect on the disparity between that discourse and daily reality.”
Yong Soon Min, Groundswell
Yong Soon Min (b.1953, Seoul, South Korea) has created Groundswell, a succession of three house forms that represent the evolution of an ideal community. The first house is prototypical—black, undistinguished, half-buried and half-emerging. The second is open and airy, with a black and white spiral form inside that suggests opposing forces and the struggle for change. The final house is vibrantly colored and welcoming. The artist says it is “a home, inhabited finally by people of all backgrounds who feel a sense of belonging and community. City Hall Park is the living symbol of the public forum which has witnessed numerous declarations, celebrations and protests for its citizens’ visions of an ideal, of social progress. I hope my work may contribute its symbolic voice to this ongoing chorus.”