Ramble- the wild garden in Central Park

Every year, more than 42 million people visit Central Park, which is more than any other urban Park in the world.  
In 1859, the sanctuary of rolling hills, bridges and lakes taking shape in the heart of Manhattan was described in The New York Times as a “noble work, which is so clearly destined to be the honor and delight of New York.”   Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Central Park’s more than 840 acres are spotted with sculptures, monuments ,  fountains. There  is  a carousel, a castle, a marionette theater, a zoo and more than a dozen playgrounds in the Central Park. I devoted    many posts to my favorite place in New York- I wrote about the pond and   castle, reservoir  and marionette theater.

This new post is about the Ramble,    the   heavily wooded area, interwoven with narrow, winding trails, and dotted with large granite boulders.  It is one of the most magical parts of Central Park...you would never know you're in the middle of Manhattan. 

For those who like a long walk in nature but who also like their comforts not far away, a visit to the Ramble in Central Park should fit the bill. This 38 acre site of wild woods sits roughly between 78th on the north and 73rd on the south.
With winding, shaded pathways, man-made streams, and beautiful wildly-landscaped flora and fauna, this is a place you want to get “lost” in. 

The Ramble contains a number of wooden bridges, including this one that crosses the small stream called The Gill (it is actually man-made and is fed by a pipe connecting it to the Central Park Reservoir).
This was one of the first parts of the Park to be built, and except for the bedrock platform, it is totally artificial.  Even the water running in the stream and the adjacent Lake is turned on and off like a faucet. Some of the trees you see date back to 1859 when the Ramble was planted.

To use the words of Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted, The Ramble is a 36-acre "wild garden."  Central Park's designers imagined a tranquil spot where visitors could stroll, discover forest gardens rich with plantings, and meander along the paths. This truly is a place for the urban explorer to escape the city and get   lost in nature.
  In the Ramble  birding is especially rewarding because, according to the Central Park website, it is on the Atlantic Flyway, a migration route that birds follow in the spring and fall.

Peace fountain near Cathedral of Saint John the Divine

When Episcopalian Bishop Henry Codman Potter began considering a New York City cathedral in 1887, he wanted one that would outshine the magnificent Roman Catholic St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.  Construction of the massive Cathedral  of Saint John the Divine,   that   started  more than a century ago    is still not completed.  I wrote about the Cathedral  several  times ( post 1 and  post 2 and post 3)- it is really magnificent!

If you have ever visited the Cathedral  , you may have noticed a bizarre sculpture in the courtyard next door to it.  The Peace Fountain, as the sculpture is called, located at the corner of West 110th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, is immensely confounding and provocative.  It was sculpted by Cathedral Artist-in-Residence Greg Wyatt to mark the 200th anniversary of the Diocese of New York in 1985.

Greg Wyatt completed  his Bachelor of Arts degree in art history at Columbia College in 1971, later  studied classical sculpture for three years at the National Academy of Design’s School of Fine Arts and earned his M.A. degree at Columbia University.  He is the author of  the   eight bronze monuments  , each inspired by a Shakespeare play, installed   in the Great Garden at Nash’s House and New Place,   Stratford,  Great Britain.  New Place  is the site of a late-medieval house once belonging to William Shakespeare. 

In May 1885  about 1,300 worshipers celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Episcopal Diocese of New York   with prayers and hymns. On display in the cathedral there were items to be placed in a time capsule  to be opened in 2085. And following the two-hour   the Bishop led the group to the Great Lawn outside the church for the blessing and dedication of a new statue.
The 40 foot-high 16-ton bronze   sculpture on the top of   fountain   weaves together several representations of the conflict between good and evil.  It   looks right out of a Hieronymous Bosch painting.

A plaque at the base contains the following inscription:
 Peace Fountain celebrates the triumph of Good over Evil, and sets before us the world's opposing forces—violence and harmony, light and darkness, life and death—which God reconciles in his peace. When the fountain operates, four courses of water cascade down the freedom pedestal into a maelstrom evoking the primordial chaos of Earth.
Foursquare around the base, flames of freedom rise in witness to the future. Ascending from the pool, the freedom pedestal is shaped like the double helix of DNA, the key molecule of life. Atop the pedestal a giant crab reminds us of life's origins in sea and struggle. Facing West, a somnolent Moon reflects tranquility from a joyous Sun smiling to the East. The swirls encircling the heavenly bodies bespeak the larger movements of the cosmos with which earthly life is continuous. Nine giraffes—among the most peaceable of animals—nestle and prance about the center. One rests its head on the bosom of the winged Archangel Michael, described in the bible as the leader of the heavenly host against the forces of Evil. St. Michael's sword is vanquishing his chief opponent, Satan, whose decapitated figure plunges into the depths, his head dangling beneath the crab's claw. Tucked away next to the Sun, a lion and lamb relax together in the peace of God's kingdom, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah.

Within the garden are "Animals of Freedom" sculptures created by artists from kindergarten through high school that were selected in a public competition in 1985. The sculptures are placed around the ring of freedom.  Collectively known as the Children’s Sculpture Garden, they represent the diverse community the Cathedral strives to serve and represent.

There are  also book-like sculptured plaques located in the sunken plaza in which the fountain sits,  that contained quotations of various philosophers, authors, artists and contemporary icons.

 I really cannot   understand why such a graphic interpretation of violence would be called the “Peace Fountain... It is not about Peace it is not fountain- and there is now water in this fountain... 

Nelson A. Rockefeller Park

There are tons of beautiful parks throughout New York City .   Nelson A. Rockefeller Park,  located in Battery Park City,  is one of my favorites.   Nelson A. Rockefeller was  the son of John Rockefeller Jr., who built  Rockefeller center.  Nelson  served     four terms as governor of New York  from 1959 till 1973 and later was appointed as   the 41st Vice President of the United States   under President Gerald Ford .
Battery Park City is  the newest neighborhood in  New York.   

Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1966  created a plan to  restore the area using  the  land  from excavation of the World Trade Center site.   Battery Park Esplanade is a  strip of riverfront parkland and perhaps one of the greatest New York City parks.  The Esplanade  is somewhat of a "superpark” with  sport courts, playgrounds and park,   constructed on  the edge of the lower Manhattan.  Nelson A. Rockefeller Park is located at the northern end  of the Battery Park Esplanade. 

 The park combines  views of the Hudson River and Statue of Liberty, a waterfront promenade, a wide green lawn  and an open air permanently installed art exhibition, that is open year around and is free for everybody.  
The Real World, by American Sculptor   Tom Otterness ,  is an odd little universe installed in 1992 in Rockefeller Park's playground.   Otterness is  best known to New Yorkers for his 2002 Life Underground installation, which is located in the 14th Street – Eighth Avenue New York City Subway station  on the A C E L services.   I already wrote about  his sculptures  in subway in one of my posts.   Tom has completed major outdoor commissions not only in US,   but in  Canada, Germany and the Netherlands.

Park in Netherland
Park in Netrherland

When I was in  Netherlands , I found  Otterness sculptures in  the Hague, on   the boulevard in Scheveningen,  called Fairytale Sculptures by the Sea. These 23 sculptures  became a reality as per the initiative of the Museum Beelden aan Zee  -  the only institution in the country focusing fully on modern and contemporary sculpture.  

 The Real  World in Nelson A. Rockefeller park  is one of the Otterness's earliest public art works.  In 1990 New York Times wrote : "With his commission for the north park of Battery Park City, Tom Otterness has reached a new plateau. The opportunity to make sculptures for children and adults to live with  in a public space has helped him focus the playful, sinister and allegorical impulses of his work".

In one of the interviews with the artist correspondent ask Tom :  Your work is displayed all around the world, Which of them top your list?  And Tom  answered:  "Battery Park is the most important for me, and then its the 14th Street subway station. I guess because I get to see them all the time. And the one in Netherlands, its huge".

The artist said :   “Sometimes public art functions as an excuse for strangers to talk to one another, through the art. We don’t realize how few places there are where it’s acceptable to talk to people you don’t know. Children facilitate that naturally.
 His latest exhibition was  part of the huge multimedia project  "The Value of Food"  in the Cathedral  of St. John the Divine  - you can read about  it in one of my posts.

Conservatory Garden -the only formal garden in Central Park

Central Park   in middle-upper Manhattan,  one of the most famous parks in the world,  is the most visited urban park in the United States.     The Conservatory Garden,  located at 5th Avenue and 105th street, is    the only formal garden found in Central Park and fall is the best time to visit it.  In  Spring there  are masses of tulips on the flower beds  and  now   Korean chrysanthemums  are in full bloom. The garden is open   daily from 8am until dusk and is free.

The Garden  takes its name from a conservatory that stood on the site from 1898 to 1934.   The park's head gardener used the glasshouses to harden hardwood cuttings for the park's plantings.  In 1934, when maintenance of the facility had become too costly, the conservatory was demolished and replaced with the present Garden, which opened to the public in 1937. The Conservatory Garden is in fact three gardens representing different landscape styles: Italian (center), French (north), and English (south).

 To enter the six-acre Garden from Fifth Avenue and 105th Street, you must pass through the Vanderbilt Gate.  The gate was designed by American architect George B. Post,  made in France  and  served  as the  front entrance to Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s magnificent mansion- the largest private residence ever built in New York City, that stood at Fifth Avenue and 58th Street from 1883 to 1927.  Cornelius Vanderbilt II died in 1899, and his fife Alice  never remarried  and lived in the mansion with here    37 servants.  

Cornelius Vanderbilt house( demolished) 

 Alice held the house  as long as she could, but by the outbreak of World War I she was forced to sell it. Before selling it, she donated as many elements from the interiors as she could, including  the 10-foot-tall metal front entryway gates.    In 1925  the house was bulldozed to make way for Bergdorf Goodman. 

 Alice Vanderbilt died the year the Conservatory Gardens were being planted.  Five years later, in 1939 the gates were installed at the park.
After the Second World War the garden had become neglected, and by the 1970s a wasteland. It was restored , partially replanted and  reopen in June 1987.

An Italian-style garden is bordered to the north and south by alleés of crabapple trees; their bloom times vary from mid-April through the first week of May, depending on the weather. 

To the north is the classical French-style garden. At its center is  the Untermyer Fountain,  donated to the park by the children of   American lawyer and civic leader Samuel Untermyer.  There is a sculpture  Three Dancing Maidens by German sculptor Walter Schott's in the center  of fountain. 

 Originally, the sculpture was located at the Untermyer estate in Yonkers, New York, though how Samuel acquired the cast from the Berlin original.
The southern garden is English in style.   Sheltered in the center is the Burnett Fountain, a bronze sculpture of two children, Mary and Dickon, characters from Frances Hodgson Burnett's book The Secret Garden.  The fountain was created by Bessie Potter Vonnoh and installed in 1936.  The children are on a pedestal  -  Dickon playing a flute and Mary listening   in the center of a reflecting pool where water lilies float in the summer. 

 The Conservatory Garden  is the location of numerous ceremonies and photo sessions each year. Ceremonies and photography sessions at Conservatory Garden require permits from the Central Park Conservancy. Wedding Ceremonies Permit fee is $400,   parties are limited to 100 people and additional fee of $100 for photography is applied. 

NYC arts wrote about the garden:  The garden is one of the jewels in the crown of all Central Park. Nowhere else in Manhattan is there such a varied and wide collection of blooming plants. Home to thousands of flowering trees and shrubs, annuals and perennials, the garden covers six acres and has a geometric design that contrasts sharply with the soft, natural contours of the rest of the park.

United Nations turned 70 - Enlightened Universe sculpture in Central Park

The charter for the United Nations came into effect seventy years ago,  October 24, 1945. The Headquarters of the United Nations are in New York City  since   1952, the year, when     the huge complex,   located in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Manhattan,  was completed.    I wrote about United Nations complex in one of  my posts.

This year  on 24 October 2015, the United Nations  turned  70.  

To celebrate the UN's 70th anniversary  a lot of activities and special events had been  scheduled throughout the world. 
In  United Kingdom 'UNEARTH' Exhibition, with  the most powerful photographs in the Organization’s vast iconic archive  was unveiled.  In Russia an event dedicated to the UN's 70th Anniversary at the Bolshoi Theatre, that included   one act ballets staged by famous choreographer Alexei Ratmansky took place.     Members of parliament and government, prominent civil society activists, diplomatic corps representatives, business society and cultural circles attended.  To mark the UN's 70th anniversary in Belarus  Government officials   travelled across Belarus on 23-30 October 2015 on board the    special train. To help commemorate the UN's 70th anniversary, the UN in the Islamic Republic of Iran organized the 'UN Journalism Award Contest', with awards presented at a ceremony on UN Day in October 2015.

 24 October 2015 more than 350 iconic monuments, buildings, statues, bridges, and other landmarks in more than 80 countries across the globe lit up blue - the official color of the UN.

In celebration of the seventieth anniversary of the UN, a monumental art installation entitled Enlightened Universe  by  Cristobal Gabarrón  was  unveiled   in Central Park, New York.
There is  a huge  globe in the center of the installation.  The sphere measures 6,371 millimeters in diameter to correspond to the Earth’s average radius of 6,371 kilometers.  70 life-size figures joined in hand around  the  globe represent the 70 years of the United Nations.
Cristobal Gabarrón , the   Spanish painter and sculptor, is considered one of the most famous contemporary Spanish artists.  Since 1986, his place of residence is New York, but the artist spent long periods in Valladolid.

"I started thinking about this piece a long time ago. I felt like maybe I needed to work to create something that gathered all values, represented all countries and the years of the United Nations”, said Cristobal Gabarrón  about the installation in the Central  Park.
After its display in New York, where it is on view till November 15,  the artwork will be displayed in major cities across the globe.

St. John the Divine and The Value of Food

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, located  the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City is the largest cathedral in the world.   St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is larger, but it's not a cathedral,  but a church, because the cathedral  is   the designated principal church within a diocese. There are a lot of interesting facts about the cathedral - I wrote about St. John the Divine in my post 1 and post 2 in June 2014.

Every year there is a new art exhibition  at the cathedral.  Last year pair of monumental birds were installed   in the majestic nave.  As these phoenixes hovered some 20 feet above, their tiny, twinkling lights illuminated an array of unexpected materials: feathers fashioned from shovels; crowns made of weathered hard hats; heads created from jackhammers.   You can read about phoenixes in the cathedral in one of my posts.
 This fall  the multimedia  display   "The Value of Food: Sustaining a Green Planet"   opened  at the Cathedral.  The  exhibition   explores food production and access, environmental and agricultural sustainability and related issues.  The Value of Food explores the dynamic and organic materiality of food and its integral role in sustaining human life. The artists in this exhibition work with food as a form of social engagement.

The exhibit features  artists whose works are installed in the cathedral's seven chapels and 14 bays. It's divided into seven themes: water, soil, seed, farm, market, meal and waste.
The steel and bronze sculpture “The Tables”, by Tom Otterness, appears among the works of 30 artists in the exhibition.

   Otternes  has more than forty public commissions in the US including Life Underground , his celebrated installation in the New York city subway station at 14th street and 8th Avenue( I wrote about it in one of my  posts) and "The Real World"   in Nelson Rockefeller park near Battery Park City ( you can see the pictures of his sculptures  in the park here).

The Otternes exhibition   consists of three picnic tables arranged in a 38-foot row filled with chaotic scenes: a broken human figure, a dinner-plate-size penny divided like a pizza and a cracked globe suspended on a pulley. The 1986 work has been variously interpreted as a civilization in decline and a symbol of gluttony.
 The artist  hopes people sit down at his work called "The Tables" to discuss the iniquity of food. "It's about running an inn, and the wealthy have food and the poor don't and that's the essential concern," Otterness said.
 The sculptures  by  Tom Otterness are installed  not only in the center on the tables but within the support columns   of the Cathedral.