Pedestrians and drivers on Poydras Street in the Central Business District might notice some commotion on the neutral ground this Friday as five new public sculptures are installed.
They’re the latest additions to the ongoing Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition, which began in 2013.
Presented by The Helis Foundation and Sculpture for New Orleans, the exhibition is comprised of 22 contemporary-style giant sculptures between Interstate 10 and Convention Center Boulevard.
Artwork is rotated onto the neutral ground on a regular basis, chosen by sculptor Michael Manjarris, of Sculpture for New Orleans, and Bradley Sumrall, chief curator of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
Sculpture for New Orleans began as a way to beautify the city after Hurricane Katrina. Artwork started popping up on Poydras Street after the city began its extensive landscaping of the busy downtown strip.
On Poydras Street between Loyola Avenue and Lasalle Street, Houston artist Dean Ruck’s 14-foot-tall “Ourglass” will reflect its suroundings with approximately 400 mirrors from old Jeeps radiating from a central core.
The title plays off the shape of the sculpture and its interactive communal aspect: its appearance changes depending on when and where the viewer is looking at it.
“My work typically involves a symbiotic dialogue between the art and the environment, of which the audience is essential,” said Ruck in a statement. “Plus, the piece is in constant flux because of the movement of the sun, the moon and the audience around it.”
One of the more enigmatic sculptures in the series, Arkansas artist Greer Farris’ 10-foot-tall “Crossroads” will stand on the neutral ground of Poydras between Baronne Street and O’Keefe Avenue.
Constructed of welded and brightly polished chrome-plated steel, it’s a compelling piece that hovers somewhere between abstraction and representation — which is in keeping with the artist’s intuitive and non-linear approach to his work.
Boaz Vaadia, an Israeli-American artist who lives and works in New York, created the larger-than-life “David” that will stand sentinel on Poydras near Convention Center Boulevard as a bronze cast of a figure originally constructed from layers of bluestone, a material that is more often used in building construction.
Vaadia says that he’s “thrilled” to have his work included in the Poydras Corridor series, as it’s the interactive nature of public art which for him gives his work its raison d’etre.
Kendall and Yaima and the Ball
It may be two pieces by renowned New York-based sculptor Carole Feuerman that will cause the most heads to turn on Poydras this spring — though hopefully they won’t be causing any fender benders in the process.
Feuerman’s heroic, hyperrealistic female bathers, titled “Kendall” and “Yaima and the Ball,” look like they’ve wandered over after a water polo match at the New Orleans Athletic Club to catch some sun on the neutral ground between Camp and Magazine.
With their poised athletic demeanor and designer swimsuits, they look like the perfect harbingers of fun in the sun as New Orleans gears up for another long, hot summer. But according to the artist, there’s a more profound aspect to their air of repose.
“While their outward appearance is often one of beauty and tranquility,” said Feuerman in her statement, “these elegant faces mask a deeper meaning of heroism, endurance, and triumph; they are survivors like the many faces of New Orleans’ citizens who braved the hurricane.”
Come to think of it, a reminder of tranquility and endurance might come in handy the next time you’re stuck in CBD traffic.
Meanwhile, several works will be removed to make way for the new sculptures, including Jason Kimes’ sculptures “Before” and “At Rest,” aka “the coin people.”
Others rotating out are Erica Larkin’s “Entrancing,” Mia Kaplan’s “Swamp Flower,” Wesley Wofford’s “Reawakening,” Russel Whiting’s “Man Defeats Chair,” and Swedish sculptor Carlo Borer’s “No. 386.”