The Trust for Governors Island's Art CommisionsGI Program

Governors Island Corporation, d.b.a. The Trust for Governors Island (The Trust)

Funding Received: 2013
New York, NY
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
November 4, 2013

Installation of “Phone in Tree” sculpture by artist Mark Handforth; photo by Timothy Schenck Photography, courtesy of The Trust for Governors Island.

It has been a very busy month as we closed out the 2013 public access season and ramped up the final phase of construction of the first 30 acres of new park at Governors Island. Since it is scheduled for completion in mid-November, the park is transforming before our eyes on a daily basis. New elements range in scale from the detailed mosaic pavers of Liggett Terrace to major new public art commissions.

Last week, the site came alive with the arrival and installation of playful sculptures by Miami-based artist Mark Handforth. The scale, height and form of each piece responds to its surroundings: straddling a pathway and flower bed, the snaking “Liggett Hangar” will be walked through and sat on, making it an active part of visitors’ physical interaction. “Phone in Tree” will be a tall marker, presenting an “unlikely pairing between nature and man, locked in an embrace,” posing as an abstract call and response to the Statue of Liberty’s torch visible on the horizon.

 TGI_Photo 01_HandforthInstallation of “Liggett Hangar” sculpture by artist Mark Handforth; photo by Timothy Schenck Photography, courtesy of The Trust for Governors Island.

Two other commissions complete the exhibition of Mark Handforth’s work on Governors Island, which will open to the public in May 2014.

Recent Wins
On September 28th and 29th, the last weekend of the public season, we opened the park construction site to the public for a sneak preview of what’s to come in 2014. More than 5,000 visitors walked through the site in just two days, enjoying the views of the Statue of Liberty just behind the sports fields under construction and seeing the more than one thousand trees that have already been planted. In addition to providing park “docents” and free public tours, we installed over two hundred temporary signs throughout the site to describe the new park spaces, future site amenities, and construction process to date. It was an exciting finale to a successful 2013 season, which saw nearly 400,000 visitors in 40 days – up fifteen percent from 345,000 visitors in 2012.

TGI_Photo 03_Park Preview

Over 5,000 visitors walked through the park-in-progress during Park Preview Weekend; photo courtesy of The Trust for Governors Island.

Additional photographs of the Park Preview Weekend are available on Flickr.

The park preview weekend created a great learning opportunity for our team to interact with visitors and hear what people think of the park; it served as a sort of test run before the new spaces open to the public next May. We also solicited #parkpreview photos and comments through social media and, as a result, benefitted from early feedback about the park. Are there other projects or contexts where letting one’s audience in early – before something is 100% complete or polished – can help guide its rollout or shape its reception?