Public Art ride
Skip the long lines at museums, and check out some of the city's best free art.
Mon Apr 26 2010
The Ego and the Id
Photographs: Caroline Voagen Nelson
Begin: 60th St at Fifth Ave
End: Battery Pl at State St
Length: 8 miles
1 Begin your trek at acclaimed Austrian artist Franz West's exuberant sculpture The Ego and the Id (Doris C. Freedman Plaza, 60th St at Fifth Ave, publicartfund.org; through August), which features huge aluminum statues in candy-colored hues of pink, blue and green, twisting and looping to create seats. Take a minute to stretch out on the colorful quasi-benches, but try not to get too sweaty; nearby Rizzoli Bookstore (31 W 57th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-759-2424, rizzoliusa.com), where shelves of painting, fashion and international titles fill three stories of a historic townhouse, beckons.
2 Ride along 57th Street to the divided bike lane on Broadway; you may have to dodge slow-moving tourists, but it still makes for a fun ride down the famed avenue to Madison Square Park (Fifth Ave at 23rd St, madisonsquarepark.org). Here, Antony Gormley's eerie Event Horizon (eventhorizonnewyork.org; through Aug 15) is all around you. Peep the 31 life-size bodies, cast in iron and fiberglass, located at different points around the park; don't forget to look up, since many have been placed atop buildings.
3 Head west on 21st Street to the High Line (Tenth Ave between Ganesvoort and W 20th Sts; 212-500-6035, thehighline.org) and lock your bike below—there are racks at Ganesvoort, 16th, 18th and 20th Streets—before climbing the steps to view the park's rotating exhibits. At the northern end of the park, you'll find Autumn on the Hudson Valley with Branches, a piece by Valerie Hegarty that's a modern take on paintings from the Hudson River School. Farther south, Richard Galpin's Viewing Station is on display beginning May 7; Galpin has placed a metal screen with shapes cut out of it on top of a viewing apparatus, giving visitors an abstracted view of the park.
4 Stop by Chelsea Market for a sweet, chewy blondie ($2.85) at Fat Witch Bakery (75 Ninth Ave between 15th and 16th Sts; 212-807-1335, fatwitch.com); it's your fuel for the final leg of this ride, which will take you down the bike paths that hug the West Side Highway. Look for Stephen Weiss's nine-foot tall bronze sculpture, The Apple, near Charles Street (hudsonriverpark.org), among the nine sculptures dotting paths through Hudson River Park.
5 Wind around Battery Park City's gardens and marina to Manhattan's tip, and stand for a moment by The Sphere (Battery Pl at State St, nycgovparks.org). Fritz Koenig built the massive bronze globe in 1971 for the newly constructed World Trade Center plaza; after 9/11—which the sculpture survived with only a gash to its exterior—it was moved to this spot and stands as a memorial to the attacks. Finally, turn around to take in the harbor view and Lady Liberty gleaming across the water; art really is everywhere you look.
Click here to see a map of the Public Art ride.