Aug. 14, 2023 By Bill Parry
When St. Albans’ favorite son LL Cool J brought his Rock The Bells Festival to Forest Hills Stadium on Aug. 5, he was just over a mile away from where a unique eight-foot-tall bronze sculpture of him stood until recently in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Astoria-based sculptor Sherwin Banfield created the temporary art installation of the Queens-born hip-hop legend placed on a digital music platform as one of the annual Arts in the Parks: Alliance for Flushing Meadows Corona Park Grants awardees in 2021.
The Alliance recently announced its 2023 Arts in the Park Grants of $10,000 each to artists Jasmin Chang and Kisha Beri for their Hey Neighbor NYC proposal and to Julia Sinelnikova for her Light Portal proposal. The 2023 works will be installed during the fall and will remain on display for up to 12 months.
“Our Art in the Parks: Alliance for Flushing Meadows Corona Park Grants celebrate the park’s global heritage and contemporary cultural diversity while supporting our community and local talent,” Alliance for FMCP Executive Director Anthony Sama said. “The 2023 granted proposed works truly exemplify the spirit of our program and we are delighted to have awarded them ten thousand dollars each to bring their concepts to life for all who visit Flushing Meadows Corona Park to enjoy and reflect upon.”
In its fourth grant cycle, AFMCP and NYC Parks partner to award early to mid-career artists with grants and year-long permits for temporary art placed in FMCP. Grant recipients are selected through an open application process and chosen by a committee of arts professionals and Queens community members, as well as NYC Parks and Alliance representatives.
“Hey Neighbor NYC” is a tribute to the city’s patchwork of communities formed by ethnicity, culture, race and shared experience – from networks of new immigrants to multi-generational communities, according to Chang and Bari. While New Yorkers share a common physical space, proximity alone is not enough to create genuine connection, understanding and tolerance for each other. The work of connection and trust between communities requires continuous and deliberate work. Hey Neighbor NYC does this work by connecting cultural communities across the five boroughs through photography, storytelling and public art.
Sinelnikova said “Light Portal” is the perfect compliment to the last remaining vestiges of the 1964 World’s Fair.
“The park lacks a true contemporary art homage to the legendary Tent of Tomorrow, which will now itself be lit at night for the city’s new program,” Sinelnikova said. “The Tent of Tomorrow was designed by Philip Johnson for the 1964 World’s Fair, however it is modeled off its Russian predecessors, namely the Shukhov Rotunda for the All-Russia Exhibition of 1896. “Light Portal” incorporates several elements of the original physical structure in a new design, with the many colors of the light disc above audiences to represent the diversity of languages and cultures in Queens.”
Sinelnikova is a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist who works with holograms, performance, and digital culture.
“As a first-generation immigrant and nonbinary artist, I feel that it is important to bring the energy of a local femme, POC and immigrant fabrication crew to this homage, which interprets a complicated architectural legacy,” Sinelnikova said. “During our current period of closed borders around the world due to politics, it is important to remember periods of greater international exchange of ideas, and collaboration. “Light Portal” envisions hope, progress, and growth, creating a meditative and playful space. The work will cast a kaleidoscope of healing colors onto viewers and the ground below during the sunlight, while also possibly incorporating solar-powered LED lights at night. The sculpture will measure at least ten feet square, comprised of steel and recycled acrylic.”
Submissions were judged according to artistic and creative merit, responsiveness to the surrounding community, and suitability to the site.