socrates sculpture park is one of my all time favorite oases in all of new york. and while the actual patch of land located right on the water in long island city is not particularly special, the garden exhibits large sculptures that are juxtaposed in front of an incredible manhattan backdrop. the curators behind the shows at socrates sculpture park invite artists to create pieces that generate interaction among artists, the art and the public to help revitalize the urban environment. until the late ’80s, the park land had been an abandoned landfill, and somehow a coalition of artists and members of the community got the city to dedicate the land to what they refer to as an “outdoor museum” and it has been this fabulous amenity since then.
the current show at socrates sculpture park is called state fair, and includes the artists bernard williams (his socrates ply-teck barn is the top picture), emily feinstein (“the ride” is the roller coaster in the 2nd picture) and margarita cabrera (with her “arbol de la vida — john deere” above). the idea behind the show was to invite artists to mesh the state farm theme — for all of those you pining for middle america — with queens extraordinarily international (with more than 150 ethnic groups) and somewhat urban living into unique sculptures. on our latest visit, the art was fun, and even though it got extremely wet, it as usual provided a great setting and hours of entertainment for the kids.
in addition to the annual sculpture exhibit, what’s nice is that the park has developed some additional programming out there making it an even more compelling to visit. the weekend we were there, the makers market was in full swing with some great designers and craftsmen selling their high end (mostly) jewelry, creamics, textiles and furnitures. socrates sculpture park has also started showing outdoor movies on wednesday nights (next week’s is lou reed’s berlin directed by julian schnabel). other activities throughout the year include a kite flying day, a fitness program which includes some boating off hallets cove right next to the park in the east river and a halloween harvest festival.
for the most part, when i venture out to socrates sculpture park, i don’t really worry about what art will be on display or even if there is an activity, as i just need a very slim excuse to make my way to this amazing little park. for some ideas as to some other things to do nearby, shop and where to eat, see my mini guide below. socrates sculpture park, 32-01 vernon boulevard at broadway, queens, new york, 718.956.1819, open year round.