/ The New York City Traveler

Socrates Sculpture Park: Perfect for the Kids

The first warm days of spring have arrived, flowering trees and tulips are ready to bloom, and you want to see some good art.  Not up for spending hours in the sanctity of the indoors plowing through gallery upon gallery of lengthy exhibits? Then take the N or W train from Manhattan to the Broadway stop in Queens and walk eight blocks to Vernon Boulevard on the East River.  Straight ahead, a large metal sign spans the entrance to Socrates Sculpture Park.

One of the Many Unique Sculptures on the Waterfront at Socrates Park

It’s almost impossible to imagine that this 4.5 acre riverfront park with sunset views of Manhattan was once an abandoned landfill and illegal dumpsite.  In 1986, a coalition of artists and community activists led by artist Mark di Suvero, transformed this wasteland into a neighborhood park with an outdoor open studio and exhibit space for large-scale sculpture.  Here the process of creation is on display as much as the finished product.  You’ll see artists in residency wielding power tools amongst piles of iron and wood creating their masterworks.

No velvet ropes here!  Feel free to touch, photograph, and even climb on the sculptures or let your dogs run around them.  Look closely because sometimes it’s hard to distinguish the intentional art from intriguing river debris.  A good example is The Peat Moss Sculpture; an enormous chunk of wood, wire and rebar covered in algae and gently submerged at the edge of the river, where it blends in with the nearby pilings and driftwood.

Based on the belief that reclamation and creative expression are essential to humanity and improving New York’s urban environment, the park offers extensive outreach programs to local schools, summer activities including free outdoor film screenings, live music, and sculpture and art classes for all ages. Open 365 days a year from 10am to sunset, admission is free.

photo courtesy of sharonirish.org

1 places are mentioned in this post!
  1. By subway: N to Broadway (Queens), then walk eight blocks to East River;
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