Perception is Key in New Park Avenue Installment

By [Megan Finnegan Bungeroth] Park Avenue will soon take on a psychedelic vibe thanks to the upcoming installation of some trippy new sculptures. The Parks Department is planning to place 10 sculptures by artist Rafael Barrios in the median of the avenue from East 51st Street up to the Park Avenue Armory at East 67th Street. ??Barrios experiments with volume and mass in his sculptures's at a distance they appear to have significant volume, but as you approach you realize the pieces are in fact very narrow, said Parks Department Public Art Coordinator Jennifer Lantzas in an email. This style, in which 2-D objects are created to appear 3-D from a certain vantage point, is called op art. Community Board 8"s Parks Committee signed off on the project at its meeting last week, approving a resolution to support it 13 to 0 with one abstention. ??The only discussion was around [the sculptures] being placed in flower beds, so will it affect the soil? said Barbara Rudder, co-chair of the committee. The Parks Department assured them that they were working closely with the Fund for Park Avenue Sculpture Committee, which is co-sponsoring the exhibition with the Art Nouveau Gallery, to ensure that the sculptures would not cause any permanent damage to the surrounding areas. The sculptures themselves will be displayed for the first time on the mall. Barrios, a Venezuelan sculptor who was born in Baton Rouge, La., studied art and existential philosophy at New York University and continued his artistic education in Canada and Venezuela. Barrios" work has been shown from Paris to Shanghai, from Caracas to Chicago, and he has received numerous awards for his sculptures. His signature style plays with perceptions and geometry, crafting large-scale illusions that challenge the eye and vary depending on the viewer"s angle. The particular sculptures to be displayed have not yet been selected; they will vary in shape, color and size but will all embody Barrios" signature geometric, dizzying style and bold colors. Local residents and the Community Board have been historically supportive of the ever-rotating selection of art that dots the Park Avenue malls. Rudder said that the presentation from the Parks Department assured the committee that this installation would bring a big visual impact to the street with minimal disruption. ??It"s going to be 2,000 pounds, which they consider light sculpture, Rudder said, ??Anchored in such a way to make sure that no damage is caused. It will be an overnight installation with one lane of traffic closed, with Department of Transportation permits. The Fund for Park Avenue has been sponsoring temporary public sculpture exhibits on the malls since 2000 and has brought a diverse array of artistic styles to the Upper East Side"s main thoroughfare. Last winter, New York"s Paul Kasmin Gallery co-sponsored an exhibition of Will Ryman"s The Roses, his first public art installation featuring 38 giant rose blossoms and 20 scattered petals painted in vibrant reds and pinks, towering over the shrubs and trees along the malls. Expect to be confounded by Barrios" work along Park Avenue starting March 1. Lantzas said the outdoor exhibition is tentatively scheduled to run through June 30 of this year.