On a hot and sticky Friday afternoon, we took a family trip to Governors Island just off the southern tip of Manhattan. No private cars are allowed on the island, and with plenty of wide open spaces and elegant trees it's a welcome break from the traffic, noise, and rather unfresh smell that New York streets get during the summer. The island is host to many events all summer long. You can visit artist's studios, buy fruits and vegetables from an organic farm, listen to a concert at Water Taxi Beach (an impressive summer line-up included MIA and Benny Benassi), visit colonial-era buildings, or watch a film. We were aiming to visit the Figment Project, a set of sculptures sprawled out on one of the island's many open lawns. But first we had to feed ourselves and let the baby nap, so we enjoyed a picnic lunch at the Hammock Grove. We took shelter from a brief rainstorm in some chic industrial sheds developed from re-purposed shipping containers by the architecture firm Lot-ek.
Repurposed shipping container shelters by Lot-ek (Photo: med44)
We walked back along the water, taking in a fantastic view of the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan's tall buildings. All of the works in the Figment Sculpture Garden are intended to be participatory and interactive, though some just seemed to be good-looking structures with a simple "add your note here" instruction. The works that invited people to physically move or rearrange pieces provided a satisfying interaction, like playing with giant art-LEGOs.
1000 Pieces by ANIMUS Arts Collective
Process by Travis Mong
A wacky inflatable project billowed in the hot breeze—I wish it made a sound when you squeezed it.
Touch by Bayard
Next to the Sculpture Garden is a Mini Golf Course, but we felt hot and lazy and settled for a refreshing iced tea at the nearby Pyramid Café. A visit to Governors Island makes for a wonderfully mellow day trip. The best way to visit the island is on a bike: bring your own or rent one (visit on Friday to for a free one-hour rental).
Figment Sculpture Garden and Mini Golf
Date: June 11 - October 3, 2010
Place: Near Liggett Hall on Governors Island
Check the ferry schedule for a free ride to Governors Island from Manhattan or Brooklyn.
Text and photos: Aya Karpinska