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
October 15, 2013

Musician Dan Zanes enthralls his tiny fans at his “Porch Party” sing-along in Colonels Row. Image courtesy of Trust for Governors Island.

As summer draws to a close, New Yorkers have been coming out to Governors Island in droves. Labor Day weekend alone saw over 21,800 visitors! While we continue our behind-the-scenes work on the site specific public art commissions and development of 40 acres of new park and public space, a diverse range of temporary arts and cultural activities delight our visitors and help set the stage for the Island’s next chapter as a year round destination.

In abandoned military barracks and the historic officers’ homes of Nolan Park, for example, the artist collective 4heads is putting on the Governors Island Art Fair for the sixth year in a row. Run by artists for artists, the festival selects artists from New York and around the world to exhibit painting, photography, sculpture, installation, video, sound and performance art. It all happens on a shoestring budget, but visitors find themselves exploring over 100 rooms of art and can’t stop raving.

On an even more intimate scale, family music favorite Dan Zanes recently held an impromptu acoustic jam session on one of the porches in historic Colonels Row. What better way to activate one of the Governors Island’s best assets—its porches—than with a freewheeling afternoon of sing-alongs on which children and parents alike can drop in?

Both represent an approach to creative placemaking that requires little infrastructure or funding, but serves as an important complement to larger-scale capital investments happening throughout the Island.

Recent Wins
The New Yorker, Huffington Post, and National Geographic have all said that Governors Island is a “must do” before the summer is up! We’ve been lucky to receive such great support from both local and national press and love that we continue to serve as a true (and charming!) escape for locals and tourists alike.

Meanwhile, Liggett Terrace is coming to life. Construction progress is accelerating rapidly at the sunny, six acre plaza that will feature moveable seating, water features, seasonal plantings, and two of our first public art commissions. We’re amazed by the visible daily progress—from soil and hedges to granite pavers and sculpture pedestals—and eager to document the public art installations later this fall.

02_Liggett Terrace Construction

Recent progress at Liggett Terrace, one of several sections of Governors Island’s new park and public spaces that will open to the public in 2014. Image courtesy of Trust for Governors Island.

What role does serendipity play in creating meaningful arts experiences? Does the act of discovery—of stumbling upon an artist or an artwork, rather than setting out with the intention to see it—affect the way an individual relates to that work?