Arts & Culture

The best public Brooklyn art installations to give your aimless walks meaning

Every year millions of New Yorkers dutifully pay their taxes, and then, eventually, at some point in the future, art pops up in local parks. Obviously the process of funding public art is not nearly so straight forward, but it’s a nice mentality to try adopting next time you notice a new public art exhibit. “Look there, small child, you see that seemingly purposeless abstract sculpture? A direct result of my prompt and patriotic tax payment.”

Money aside, public art installations abound in Brooklyn, but with an impossible array of government and nonprofit organizations to thank for their installation, it is difficult to keep up with their existence and departure from our neighborhoods. The typical relationship between Brooklynite and public art tends to be a sudden random discovery of some uninterpretable but vaguely aesthetically enjoyable addition to an open space, followed by an equally sudden disappearance of the installation. But, we’ve theorized, if you’ll simply familiarize yourself with the location of your nabe’s public art installations, you may be able to begin solving some of your existential woes.

Having intent and goals on your dog walking, subway seeking and aimless jaunts often means a more endorphin-filled existence. So familiarize yourself with the following current exhibits and if you find yourself in the vicinity, make a point of wandering over. You don’t need a masters in fine art to appreciate that some combination of organizations thought it might improve your quality of life to look upon a variety of colorful shapes during your walk to work. And your family and friends will be oh-so impressed with your local knowledge when you take them on a quick and fulfilling detour in the name of looking at art.


El Dorado. Photo via NYC Parks, courtesy of the artist
El Dorado. Photo via NYC Parks, courtesy of the artist

El Dorado
Sunset Park
June 24 through September 24

Inspired by the myth of El Dorado’s lost treasure, this exhibit is intended to be an updated tale where Sunset Park is an archaeological site. In a fenced-in triangle in a northwest corner of the park, 100 metallic sculptures of swaddled babies (“guaguas”) inspired by Ecuadorian children sit amongst the flowers.

The Connective Project
Prospect Park Rose Garden
July 7 through 17

In honor of Prospect Park’s 150th birthday: pinwheels. So many pinwheels. Submitted art and words will be printed and turned into thousands of pinwheels to extend across the park’s oft overlooked Rose Garden. Whether or not you agree that, “these moving expressions will form a dynamic, engaging,” display, renderings showing a bridge of pinwheels are certainly eye-grabbing, and the concept is pretty accessible.

Cloud Drift
Union, Carroll, Third and Ninth St. bridges, Gowanus
June 21 through September 21

A series of flags bearing the image of the Gowanus Canal’s surface have been placed along the notorious waterway’s bridges. Due in part to the cyanotype process used to make the flags, the image they¬†bear is of a far clearer, bluer, more monochromatic appearance¬†than one will get by looking out on the murky surface of the canal itself.


Descension. Photo by Susan De Vries
Descension. Photo by Susan De Vries

Brooklyn Bridge Park, Dumbo
May 3 through September 10

Come peer into the void at this gurgling and highly Instagrammable whirlpool out on the Brooklyn waterfront. It’s weird, it’s memorable, and yes there’s an artist description that lends it a deeper meaning but the fact that it exists is good enough for most.

Coney Art Walls
3050 Stillwell Ave., Coney Island
June through September

Big, bright and colorful, the Coney Art Walls are an annual project. This year there are 35 walls to look at. They’re located right next to the amusement park so wander on over and take solace in their fun, bold patterns and pictures as you try not to vomit the chili dog unsettled in your gut during that Cyclone ride.

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