It’s safe to assume that, before Tuesday, the pedestrian median at the intersection of 4th and Prospect avenues in South Park Slope had never before been adorned with anything much prettier than a discarded Four Lokos can.
That all changed for the unassuming patch of concrete last week however, when it became the site of Brooklyn-based artist Ruth Hofheimer’s art installation “Greenery,” a series of steel cutouts of cartoon-like vegetation.
The installation is the latest project of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Art Program, now in its seventh year. Local non-profit Arts Gowanus also collaborated on the project.
“I think 4th Avenue is an awesome venue for public art, its got expansive views and this wide open space that allow you to see art in an interesting way, both up close and far away,” said Hofheimer. “It’s such an urban manmade concrete environment, so I thought it would be interesting and humorous to add some greenery to that.”
Established in 2008, the DOT Art Program works with local community-based organizations and artists to bring a wide variety of projects, including murals, sculptures, and short-term performances to DOT property.
Pieces have been installed or performed in plazas, bridges and chain-link fences, among other location, since the program’s inception.
“The longer we’ve been here, the more places we see as possibilities for art,” said Wendy Fueuer, assistant commissioner of Urban Design and Art for DOT. “Your eyes look at things differently. We like to surprise people.”
The program calls for proposals from local artists twice a year, from which an advisory board chooses projects which best respond to their proposed site and enhance DOT initiatives.
The median on which Greenery is installed, for instance, highlights DOT efforts to make it more pedestrian-friendly, said DOT program coordinator Courtney Whitelock. To date, she said, the program has sponsored more than 200 projects.
“New York can be very dark and dirty,” Whitelock said. “It’s a concrete jungle. With art like this, it pops up out of nowhere and provides beauty. I think it makes [the area] a more amenable place to live. I think it’s a better quality of life.”