Michelle Knapik, Environment Program Director
Tilly by artist Emilio Rossi
This past weekend marked the opening of “Sculptoure,” an annual outdoor urban sculpture exhibition presented by SICA (The Shore Institute for Contemporary Arts). The “urban sculpture park” has been expanded from seven sites in Long Branch to include eleven sites in Asbury Park, along with a new presenting partner in artscap (Arts Coalition of Asbury Park). I’m an Asbury Park resident, so I grabbed an exhibition map (which spans seventeen blocks in Asbury’s downtown and boardwalk areas) and headed out to see the transformed landscape. My walk had the allure of a treasure hunt, and I struck gold three times in encountering artists at their sites.
Artist Marah Fellicce
The first artist /sculpture find was at the “piling field.” If you didn’t know better, you might think it was a telephone pole nursery, but for the locals it stands as a reminder of past failed urban renewal projects. When the half built town house project burned, it was cut off at the knees – or at least at the foundation pilings – but on this day artist Marah Fellicce invited us to imagine it a new.
She invoked the power of color, texture, and an added dimension of height in “Memento Mori.” Since my Latin is limited to a few legal terms, I had to look up this phrase (I went as far as wikipedia). In contrast to the lively design, Memento mori is translated as “remember you must die” and it applies to a genre of art linked to expressions of the punishment that awaits one who has gone against their religion, as well as the emptiness of earthly luxuries and achievements. I don’t know the fate of the old developer, but this space has been temporarily reborn.
I met the second artist/storyteller on a vegetated median space across from the beach. Homo sapiens? flotsam and jetsam is a work in progress. Next to Homo sapien is a blue receptacle for debris found on the beach. Artist Jeffrey Seeds will incorporate these materials on Homo Sapien throughout the summer and the tale of environmental impact will unfold on his website.
Encounter number three almost didn’t happen. I went to the site of “Fist: A Self Portait” near the beginning of my walk and found only some disturbed earth, but something pulled me back at the end of my walk, and that’s when I met artist Alexandra Martin. On this day, her story was about what happened to her art. The once upright fist is now a horizontal installation in two pieces with a new sign that reads, “The object of unfocused Anger” If her art evoked an angry response, she was going to explore that emotion further.
For me, part of the social commentary is that we still have a lot of work to do to cultivate an appreciation and respect for the arts. Especially public art, which is as accessible as it is provocative. I’d like the next Fist in Asbury Park to remain upright, invite conversation, inquiry, and exploration. In this way, our commons (both the grounds and art) will flourish as a community canvas.
Here are a few other splashes on that community canvas that caught my eye last Saturday:
Nostromo by artist Quinn Stone
Inspiration by artist Deborah Jean-Weinstein
Gyre by artist Clifford Blanchard
Cakes by artist Chela St. Onge
You can experience Sculptoure from now until October 18.