Digital walkers, above, near the restored Tweed Courthouse steps are part of Julian Opies new exhibit in City Hall Park.
Modern art for landmark building and park
By DIVYA WATAL
The Tweed Courthouse, an historic landmark on Chambers Street, has impressed passersby with its Victorian steps, Corinthian columns, and marble cornices ever since its $85 million restoration in 1999. But on Wednesday, people were struck by a digital addition.
The courthouse, which houses the Department of Education, now sports two digital screens flanking its main steps, with each screen displaying an androgynous person in incessant motion.
The walking people are kind of eerie, said a courthouse visitor, Josh, who declined to give his last name. Its like a treadmill that never stops its uncomfortable to watch.
I like it, but its definitely strange, he added.
The digital screens are part of an exhibition of 14 sculptures by British artist Julian Opie, presented by the Public Art Fund. Titled Animals, Buildings, Cars and People, the exhibition showcasing Opies representations of animals, everyday objects and ordinary people will pepper City Hall Park, adjacent to the Tweed Courthouse, until Oct. 14, 2005.
Its very New Yorkish, said Gary Miller, who lives close to City Hall and enjoys sitting in the park.
Opies minimalist art panels and block sculptures, rendered in his signature linear style, belong to the abstract art genre that some find hard to comprehend.
I didnt know what it was, said another observer, Dave Ranegan, as he sat on the steps of the Tweed Courthouse, sandwiched between the two digital screens. I thought it was calculating the speed of people walking by.
Opie, 46, has exhibited his work all over the world, but this is his first solo show in the United States. His works have an elementary feel to them, striking some onlookers as magnified versions of childrens playthings.
I have little ones like these at home, said Jeffrey Newman, who works near City Hall, as he gazed at Sheep Cow Deer Dog Chicken Cat Goat, a cluster of wooden animals that Opie created in 1997. Its whimsical I think its nice, he added.
However, not everyone is impressed with the show. Whatever floats your boat, you know, said a City Hall employee, who asked to remain anonymous, throwing up her arms in the air. I want to know how many miles that thing walks everyday, she said, pointing at Opies digital screens. Ill say its unique because I dont want to lose my job.