11 Feb Samurai Shopper | Floral and Hardy

A piece of of Will Ryman’s Park Avenue floral sculptures, which spans ten city blocks.

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Ryman has adapted his flair for the dramatic and absurd to a seemingly benign subject – floral displays – to produce massive flowers on a surreal scale. His vividly painted roses provide a particularly vibrant contrast to the muted winter months and provide a much-needed reminder of the tulips that will bloom in the spring.

“Park Avenue is known for its beautiful floral displays and Will Ryman’s massive roses, ranging between three and twenty-five feet in height, will enliven the area throughout the winter, in anticipation of the arrival of the tulips in the spring,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe when the exhibition was announced. “Parks is proud to partner with the Fund for Park Avenue Sculpture Committee to present this exciting, free exhibition of Ryman’s artwork in New York City.”

This exhibition includes 38 giant pink and red roses that climb between 3 and 25 feet in height, dwarfing their neighboring streetlights and avenue traffic. Colossal blossoms ranging from five to ten feet in diameter bud from the steel stems and an additional sixty fallen rose petals speckle the landscaped medians. Ryman, familiar with non-traditional materials such as plaster, wire mesh, and PVC tubes, adopted industrial materials-stainless steel, yacht-grade fiberglass resin, automotive paint, and brass-for the public sculptures.

This installation allows people to experience a “bug’s-eye-view” of blooms, and the oversized sculptural plants will in fact host brass ladybugs, aphids, beetles, and bees. The Roses will be on view from winter’s dormancy through spring’s regeneration, suggesting the cycle of nature, as well as the eternally changing landscape of New York. Above all, however, the exhibition is meant to be fun and playful.

Ryman has been influenced by the works of absurdist playwrights and philosophers. His works are in the public collections of the 21c Museum, Louisville, KY; the Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, ME; Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, ME; the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY and in the collections of Jerry Speyer in New York, Martin Z. Margulies in Miami, and Charles Saatchi in London.

The installation is presented under the auspices of The Fund for Park Avenue Sculpture Committee and New York City’s Department of Parks & Recreation, who work together to present a variety of exhibitions by renowned artists on this unique venue. The Fund for Park Avenue relies on community support to plant, light and maintain the trees and flowers on the Park Avenue Malls.

The City of New York’s Department of Parks & Recreation Public Art 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.

Will Ryman is the latest in a long list of distinguished artists to exhibit on Park Avenue. Previous exhibitions have included Deborah Butterfield, Robert Indiana, Jun Kaneko, Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne, Yoshitomo Nara and George Rickey. To view a complete history of art on Park Avenue visit www.nyc.gov/parks/art and www.fundforparkavenue.org.

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