Transforming junk to art at Socrates Sculpture Park

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Once an abandoned landfill and illegal dumpsite, Socrates Sculpture Park is now a venue for art, music and the joy of the view of the New York skyline. Sculptor Virginia Overton made use of what one would see as “junk” to create her solo exhibition, “Built.”

The exhibit runs through Sept. 3 and is open to the public every day, from early mid-morning until the sun goes down. Ten pieces have been built on the site using materials gathered from nearby.

“During the six months of construction, people were able to view it and engage in conversation about the art structures,” Overton said. “There are a total of 10 pieces, the first being a billboard that you will encounter as you enter the park called ‘Untitled (Bootleggi­ng).’”

Overton described two of her pieces that utilize old trucks, one of which is a Dodge Ram 150 pickup.

“‘Untitled (Late Bloomer)’ has a water garden in the back of it. I lined the truck bed with rubber and filled it with water and lotus plants. It has a sort of fountain running through. The lotus plants will bloom as they grow during the summer. The other, Untitled (Mobile) is a 1990 Ford tow truck that hangs a large steel tank in the back from a chain of the tow arm like a mobile. This dark blue, almost black structure sits along the skyline of the water’s edge of the river.”

There is a piece that includes a gantry, an a-frame structure used to lift heavy things. “I hung an industrial pine wooden beam from it. ‘Untitled (Suspended Beam)’ is one of many interactive pieces as you can sit on and swing from it.”

“Untitled (Gem)” is the largest sculpture in the park. “It is made of steel roof trusses that when hooked almost forms the shape of a crystal. It is 18 feet tall and forty feet long and gives an open feeling.”

“There is another piece that is steel framework and filled with horizontal pipes,” said Overton. “‘Untitled (4x8 view)’ allows visitors to look through the pipes and view various parts of the city or the park.”

Socrates Sculpture Park is equipped with an outdoor artist studio space. Overton used this site to suspend a beam that goes through an already existing hole in the roof. “Untitled (Vertical again)” produces a tree-like structure.

Another sign composition, “Untitled (Socrates sign)” is a light box that is hung above this studio space with the name of the park displayed. Overton said that there are also two other small pieces as part of the park’s exhibit.

Jess Wilcox is the curator of Socrates Sculpture Park. “I worked closely with Virginia in the discussion and vision of placing the artwork in the park as well as envisioning how the public can interact. We have crafted small labels so that people can get an idea of what Virginia thought about these works. A handout with a map is given that shows you the locations and names of the artwork.”

Wilcox said that Overton came into her mind for a solo piece because of how she typically works with found materials, in line with the history of the park. “In most cases, artists come into the park and work on their project. There is an outdoor studio with tools and facilities. The public is able to view artists working on their exhibition.”

Socrates Sculpture Park is located at 32-01 Vernon Blvd., at the intersection of Vernon Boulevard and Broadway. The Astoria ferry stops nearby and is accessible by other publication transportation as well.

Posted 12:00 am, June 10, 2018
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