ArtUp Scaffolding Bridge Installation by Harumi Ori
You’re walking down East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery, and something catches your eye that breaks your New Yorker stride, an impressive feat considering we’re the fastest walkers in the country.
Maybe you see one of East 4th Street’s several theaters and recall that you’re in Manhattan’s only official cultural district. Maybe you notice that you’re in a neighborhood in transition – East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery is no stranger to construction and development. Or maybe, if you happen to be on the north side of 4th Street, you’ll look up and see one of FABnyc’s ArtUp sites, a scaffolding bridge at 70 East 4th Street Cultural Center.
The scaffolding bridge has hosted a variety of engaging, attention grabbing, and temporary public art exhibitions. The building, which is the future home of Downtown Art and Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company, has been under construction for the last 7 years. The project was started based on community feedback regarding the changing appearance of the block and was launched in an effort to improve visual access to a currently vacant space. ArtUp continues to involve community members by including them in the installation process and by exhibiting art outside of the confines of a gallery space. It is essential to carefully consider how artwork will function on a scaffolding bridge where viewing is easily disrupted by the changing environment. A site located approximately 14 feet above ground and best viewed in passing, the scaffolding bridge poses a curatorial challenge, but FABnyc rises to the occasion by carefully selecting exhibitions by terrific, talented, and typically New York-based artists.
Kick-line by Ryan Cronin - Another Scaffolding Bridge Installation
Although East 4th Street received its official title of Cultural District in 2001, new artistic endeavors have continued to arise quite regularly on the block. Its ongoing transition into an increasingly more cultural street impacts the kind of people who walk past the scaffolding bridge. Creative types are some of the most frequent passersby, and I was surprised to randomly encounter so many people walking or standing on the street who were directly involved with ArtUp in some capacity.
FABnyc does wonders for the social networks of those involved in ArtUp projects by bringing people together who may not otherwise interact and creating a truly collaborative exhibition process. Especially at night, there are a lot of crowds on the block due to the many performances and the vast array of nightlife in the area. By exhibiting in public, FABnyc attracts an already present audience made up of members of the neighborhood and general public. FABnyc does a service to locals and tourists alike by beautifying the neighborhood and utilizing an otherwise vacant space to provide opportunities for up-and-coming artists. FABnyc’s transformation of the scaffolding bridge at 70 East 4thStreet into a platform for art exhibitions is a definite asset to the community and is clearly valued by those who live or work close by.
- Written by Jessica Scherlag
Jessica Scherlag is a graduate student at NYU and will be receiving her Master’s degree in Visual Arts Administration in May 2012. Jessica is inspired by great public art and building social capital in communities. A resident of the East Village, her interest in FABnyc was ignited by frequent strolls past FABnyc’s exciting public art exhibitions.