Last week, we caught a glimpse of Katharine Grosse’s installation at Fort Tilden– part of PS1’s “Rockaway!” series– while it was in progress. The German artist had spent the past days spray-painting the skeleton of a building on the former army base with colors that call to mind either the sunset or David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane makeup. The piece, which had been roped off and guarded by security as if Nike missiles had returned to Tilden, opened to the public Sunday with an outdoor reception that was really more of an Insta pose-fest.
You wouldn’t know it from all the fingermouthing on the beach, but “Rockaway!” wasn’t the only exhibit that opened this past weekend. Over in the shack that’s home to the Rockaway Artists Alliance, “Forbidden Fruit: Street Art in a National Park” opened Saturday. The exhibit was a collaboration between the RAA and the National Endowment for the Arts (celebrating 50 years) and the National Park Service (celebrating its centennial), and even involved some input from park rangers. (You know, the ones on horseback who sometimes creep up on your beach blanket to make sure there’s no nutcracker being quaffed.) According to a pamphlet, the show “tells the story of the people, flora and fauna of Jamaica Bay and provides a format to bring street art– by its nature a very public form of artistic expression– into the National Park.”
Under the aegis of a panel of jurors that included local resident and PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach (seen holding court at “Rockaway!” on Sunday), artists were called upon to dramatize historical figures and events such as “Master Builder” Robert Moses, a 1993 shipwreck in which Fujianese refugees died trying to get to the shores of Tilden, and God’s gifting of bees to Rockaway. Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m., a $5 suggested donation gets you access to large paintings inside of the building, in its peaceful backyard, and on the derelict railcar-repair facility where Patti Smith staged her post-Sandy installation a couple of years ago.
Click through our slideshow for a tour of both projects.