Dark gray clouds covered downtown Albany. Rain started.
Grace Farrell was not concerned about small drops, or larger shots of water on the way. She stopped for a few seconds to admire the “Albany Wind Orchid,” a piece of steel artwork on Broadway near Steuben Street.
“I do like this one,” Farrell, 49, who lives in Albany, said of the four fans on curved stems that slowly turned in the breeze. “It’s moving, it’s kinetic. We walk during lunch, and the sculptures make it more interesting.”
Massachusetts artist George Sherwood’s “Orchid” is one of 16 pieces of art scattered in the heart of Albany, the latest edition of the city’s “Sculpture in the Streets” series. The exhibit, also part scavenger hunt for art lovers, opened earlier this month and will run through next April. It is sponsored by the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District and Kivort Steel of Waterford.
“Our goal is everyone finds a couple that speak to them,” said Janis Keane Dorgan of Guilderland, the exhibit coordinator.
Dorgan, former curator of the Rice Gallery at the Albany Institute of History and
Art, said people will be able to ponder as they pass; many of the works are abstract.
“I think it helps if you’re with someone else,” she said. “You can exchange ideas because your ideas aren’t going to be the same. I’m sure people are going to find beauty in some of the works. I think they’re going to be amazed at the scale and craftsmanship of some of the works.”
The pieces come from 11 artists living in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island and New Jersey. The sculptors used wood, steel, rubber and polypropylene in creating their visions. All received funds to transport their works to Albany.
“3D-Chicago,” created by Michio Ihara of Concord, Mass., is the exhibit’s other piece with moving parts and is on display on Broadway, at the bottom of the State Street hill. Three steel stems, the largest one 20 feet tall, are topped by thin steel “arms” and circles that resemble heads that tilt and sway in the wind. Dana Filibert's “Puffy Clouds” are formed and fabricated steel painted with an epoxy-based marine paint; Massachusetts artist Filibert has moved her clouds into place on South Pearl Street, across from the Times Union Center. “Zerques,” also on South Pearl, is Connecticut resident Carole Eisner’s interpretation of life in the world. Steel girders have been painted brown and twisted into an elaborate series of loops.
“There is color,” Dorgan said. “There’s a large yellow piece ‘growing’ out of the green space on State Street. There’s a piece called ‘Corral’ at the corner of Broadway and Clinton in a green space that is bold orange and white. And then there are some things with subtle color. There’s a piece called ‘Mosaic Tires and Muffler’ and it’s a muffler with a group of tires that are completely covered in mosaic. They sparkle like fine jewelry in the sun.”
As New York marks the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s exploration on the river that now bears his name, Dorgan hopes both serious and casual art lovers will be motivated to examine new things in downtown Albany.
“It’s that search for the unknown, pushing yourself to achieve something you have not before,” she said. “The process is the same as it was 400 years ago.”
Dorgan also believes children will like finding artistic treasures on the site map, available at the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District office at 522 Broadway, or online at www/downtownalbany.org. The young art critics might have creative interpretations — they could see big balls of popcorn in the “Puffy Clouds” or maybe a giant canned ham in the silver “Wealth of Fools” shape in front of the Palace Theatre on Clinton Street.
“I like the ‘Missing Trees,’ ” said Laura Rann, 39, of Hudson, of the canvases on Eagle and Beaver Streets that have been cut to show shapes of trees. “You can see the backgrounds of the trees and grass through the holes.”
Karen Miller, 52, of Albany, prefers the “Puffy Clouds.”
“It’s a little odd, but still kind of fascinating,” she said.
Dorgan hopes people will be fascinated enough to make return trips to downtown. Steel arms and fans might make serene, gentle moves on a sunny day with a blue sky. During a blustery winter day, the movements will be fast and frantic.
“The second time, they could see something they didn’t see the first time they walked by,” Dorgan said.