Remember those mysterious cubeheads at Astor Place? Well, now we know what they were up to. No, they weren’t trying out the hot new headware. Turns out they were shooting a short for a campaign by the Tribeca Film Festival called “See Yourself In Others.”
Ugh, the Tribeca Film Festival is up to something cool at Astor Place — but they won’t tell what! Sneaky fellows. What we do is know is that there are folks (volunteers? actors? unsuspecting people on their way to work taken hostage by the crew? sad!) wearing mirrored cubes on their heads and just… standing around near the Cube cube. They’re also being filmed, so our best guess is that it’s an empathy-generating live-installation for some sort of performance art film.
Cube, meet spikes.
The Alamo returned in November and now another piece of monumental art is being installed outside of Cooper Union’s Foundation Building. The sculpture, a nine-foot-by-nine-foot cube with spikes mounted on top, is by John Hejduk, an artist, architect and former Dean Emeritus of Cooper Union.
I can come up with a handful of half-decent excuses to not talk to a canvasser on the street, ranging from the whiny to the legit– I really am too broke to help. But to tell the truth, I also don’t want to get into a difficult conversation about the dismal state of the world. Don’t we have enough of that shoved down our social media feeds everyday? So yes, turns out I am that person that we wrote about in October, the one who brushes past Amnesty International canvassers. There’s an art to it, too: first I let my gaze turn steely, then I tighten the grip on my bag and put on an air of a person with a purpose. It works like a charm and at worst, I’m left with a slight twinge of guilt.
After five long years of construction, Astor Place is back. Along with the refurbished Cube, the redesigned plaza includes new outdoor seating, fresh trees and landscaping, and restored lampposts from the Mosaic Man. But the new Alamo Plaza features a few additions that are unwelcome to some of its most loyal visitors: “no bike riding or skateboarding” signs spaced at regular intervals around the Cube. These days, simply carrying a skateboard near the Cube is enough to earn a suspicious glare and a warning from the security guards sometimes enforcing the ban. It wasn’t always this way—for generations of New York skaters, Astor Place was a landmark that held an iconic, if unlikely, place in the city’s skateboarding history.
The Cube’s return to Astor Place has been glorious and all, but have we basked in the glow long enough that we can now address the elephant in Alamo Plaza? The Cube is back, yes, but the sculpture is imprisoned behind a crude cage of orange barricades. It’s downright inhumane (incubane?). It’s time to uncage the Cube and let it spin free, the way it was meant to. Keep Reading »
With the surprise return of the Astor Place Cube yesterday came many reactions. At least, for those who noticed it had disappeared in the first place.
The long redesign of Cooper Square and Astor Place is finally nearing completion– knock on wood. This morning, landscapers worked to plant dozens of new trees around the square. We’re told that in total about 55 trees—oaks, sweetgums, and blackgums—will be planted over the next few days, bringing some much needed greenery to the area.
Jim Power, better known around the East Village as the “Mosaic Man,” was on hand for the reinstallation of another of his ceramic-encrusted lampposts along Astor Place this morning, the third of seven poles that will eventually return to the redesigned blocks around Cooper Square. Power, 69, observed from his mosaic-laden motorized scooter as staff from the Village Alliance positioned the lamppost near the Astor Place subway entrance, pausing to chat with neighborhood friends and curious passersby.
In just a couple of weeks, 10 Astor Place will be home to yet another franchise of the ever-popular mini-chain Sweetgreen whose salad-tossing expertise and local-farm-to-tongs ethos have hoisted them to top of the lettuce pile, so to speak. In a city full of assembly-line salad joints that follow Subway’s personalized sandwich-prep model (without being gross about it), Sweetgreen seems to be sweeping the competition– their Williamsburg location regularly draws lunch-hour lines extending all the way to the door, making them a standout in the fast food new wave that’s taking over our increasingly health-obsessed city.
Jim Power, working out his makeshift studio at the 6th Street Community Center, is busy getting ready to leave his mark on the new Astor Place Plaza, using the same creations he’s been planting around the East Village for the last 30 years: mosaics. With the help of his assistant, Julie Powell, he’s scraping, chiseling, and tiling new poles. The product of all this work is something that he and the rest of the East Village are quite used to seeing at this point, so much so that Power’s earned the nickname “Mosaic Man” for the dozens of colorful, chipped tile pieces he’s congealed together, then cemented onto light posts over the years.
Last month, the city’s Department of Design and Construction told us the Astor Place cube was set to return in June. Today was supposed to be the big day, according to a construction update noticed by EV Grieve. But alas, the newly redesigned Alamo Plaza is still as cube-less as a sad cup of iced coffee left out in the sun too long. The city now says it won’t happen till August.
A DDC rep told us today that the cube was “awaiting final inspection by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. Once completed, it will be delivered and re-installed.” A spokesperson for the Parks Department, which has traditionally been involved in the upkeep of Tony Rosenthal’s beloved sculpture, added, “The City is looking forward to an installation of the Cube in August. The Cube must first be inspected by a conservator.”