I want to say one word to you. Just one word.... Plastics.”
Mr. McGuire, The Graduate

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Closed for the year

Today is the last day that Governors Island is open to the public. All the artists have taken down their installations or are in the process of doing so. Dan had volunteered to help me take the knitting down, which turned out to be an enormous help, and I cannot thank him enough for his work and efforts. We had originally planned on going Friday September 23rd, but the weather forecast for the weekend was so abysmal, that we decided to chance it, and wait until Saturday. It was a wise decision. After installing in torrential rains in May, after installing my second Knit for Trees in Vermont in more rainfall, I have finally beaten the precipitation curse, and we took down the artwork in gray, but otherwise dry conditions.

The installation was, for me, a great success: not only did it look the way I anticipated, it also gave me a lot of confidence as an artist. Confidence to tackle ambitious projects, and confidence that I can realize the ideas in my head, and have them be received positively. Here is the final photo of Knit for Trees before de-installation:

We started working around noon, and it took us a little over 4 hours, working pretty steadily, to take all the panels down. Here I am taking down the very first panel:

And Dan hard at work (he does seem to be enjoying himself though!):

I had gotten some concerns and questions from visitors about potential damage to the trees from the plastic wrapping. Concerns about plastic panels making it likely that the trees would grow mold or be more susceptible to diseases. Not only was the bark on all the tree trunks healthy and essentially dry by the time we left Governors Island, we also found thriving little ecosystems in the knitting. Bugs, from ants to cicadas, seem to have found the panels to make a perfect home. We unfortunately had to evict the largest spider we have ever seen (she temporarily moved to a non-knitted tree, and we apologize for any inconvenience!):

I had the honor of cutting the last thread of the last panel. We later rewarded ourselves with a large brownie!

At last all the panels were down, dried as best as possible before they began their journey back to my studio, where they will be dismantled, rolled into new balls of yarn, and used in the next project. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the panels were in very good condition, with just a few colors (notably the yellows) that had faded slightly.

Figment Sculpture Garden 2011 is over, and it was an amazing journey. Thank you to all who have helped me realize this project: I could not have done it without you!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The last days of summer...

Over the summer, many people have knitted with me, and their contributions were finally added on Friday afternoon. I took a leisurely trip to Governors Island, and added all those panels to the branches of the large tree. I must admit that I wished then that I could keep going with adding panels and finish all the trees on the path near me. I will also admit I am running out of steam so, in a way, my low energy level cancels my regrets!

I am truly impressed by the number of panels visiting knitters were able to make, and would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this project: from donating and cutting bags, to knitting one row, to knitting several panels. The project was successful because of the generous help I received since February.

Friday was a slow day at work for me so I took that opportunity to make a mini-knitted tree for the artists who have a mini-city installation next to me. I choose a branch that would most look like a small tree, and covered it with extra tiny panels I had, then knitted bands of blue, red and yellow. The tree survived two subway trips, and a massive cat attack, but was not sturdy enough for the visitors to Governors Island. Within an hour of being installed, the tree was broken, one of its branches dangling like a broken wing. I had not taken photos of the tree at home, but here is a photo after the accident:

The past few mornings have been pretty cold, and ads are running for back to school supplies. The project is almost over. My last knitting circle will be next weekend, followed by our celebration picnic Sept. 3. It has been a truly amazing project, which has given me confidence and energy to make more art. Governors Island is open to the public until the end of September, so come on by if you still haven't visited this year!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gearing up for Vermont

As the Governors Island project is winding down, I am getting ready for the show in Vermont. The Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in Rutland, Vermont, has accepted the Knit for Trees installation, as part of their SculptFest 2011. This show (which is called Forces of Nature) will open Saturday September 10th in Rutland. I recently received the dimensions for the trees, as well as a photo for the site. Needless to say I am very excited about it, and I am furiously knitting in order to have 5 trees done for the opening. The trees are all birch trees, so I decided to make more colorful panels with bands of colors (yellow, blue and black) at the top,  bottom, and in the middle of each tree. Here is a photo of the site sans panels. I will post photos in September when the installation is complete:

I am not abandoning Governors Island quite yet, however. I am planning on a quick trip to the island on Friday to install all the panels that were knitted on site. They will go on the large tree branches and complete the Knit For Trees on Governors Island.

I am also planning a Labor Day picnic for all the knitters, bag cutters, bag givers and general supporters. This will be a GREEN potluck picnic, September 3 from noon to 4. Bring your own drink and food to share. This will mark the end of the knitting circle, but the installation will stay up until the last weekend of September so you still have time to see it!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Art and Science

For the past two weeks, I have been noticing very large bugs hanging from the knitted panels. A visitor told me they were cicadas that had molted so I was actually seeing a shell of a bug, not an actual bug. Of course I had to go to Wikipedia to find out more:
"After mating, the female cuts slits into the bark of a twig, and into these she deposits her eggs. When the eggs hatch, the newly hatched nymphs drop to the ground, where they burrow. Most cicadas go through a life cycle that lasts from two to five years. The nymphs feed on root juice and have strong front legs for digging.In the final nymphal instar, they construct an exit tunnel to the surface and emerge. They then molt (shed their skins) on a nearby plant for the last time and emerge as adults. The abandoned skins remain, still clinging to the bark of trees."
This means a few things: the nymphs were there in May, feeding underneath the ground when I installed the panels, which I hate to admit is a little creepy. But more importantly, it means that cicadas are art appreciators, and will choose to cling to beautiful trees for the last stage of their childhood! It can also mean that knitted plastic easily traps twigs and dead bugs. One or the other. In any case, below are a few photos of the skins!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Yes I have been neglecting my blog...

Work and my age have been catching up with me lately, and I have been neglecting Governors Island and my blog a little. Our dear friends John and Theresa came down from Boston for a quick visit last weekend. We spent Saturday on Governors Island and I taught them how to knit (Theresa was quickly converted). And I skipped going on Sunday... and I also skipped writing about the weekend on Monday...and taking a short break felt really good...

But it really feels like the lazy days of summer are upon us: so few visitors came on Saturday that I started to wonder if the entire city had gone to the Hamptons. I must admit I felt a little guilty skipping a day... I will try and have better attendance in the next few weeks that I have left with this project, I promise!

I also need to report that I will do a similar installation in Vermont in early September, so Knit for Trees will stay alive and well for a little while longer. The installation will be at the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in Rutland VT. More details will be forthcoming, I'm sure.

In the meantime, you can still enjoy Knit for Trees until the end of August.

Of note this weekend on the Island:

Saturday, August 6: Lululemon- Escape to Governors Island, 10 AM - 5 PM, Colonel's Row
New York City's first-ever bold collaboration of yoga, community and music on Governor's Island! All are welcome to celebrate with us: complimentary admission, open level classes, bring your own mat! More info/class times at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=169225413144855

Friday, July 29, 2011

Events this weekend

On Governors Island this weekend:

Saturday, July 30
Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon 10 AM – 2 PM
Picnic Point
Join the Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon for an activities expo, live music, vendors and skateboard demos at Picnic Point.

More information at: www.adrenalinaskateboardmarathon.com

Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31
First Annual New York Poetry Festival, 12 PM – 5 PM
Colonels Row
Come out for this free poetry festival for readings and performances by the Poetry Brothel, the Poetry Project, Ear Shot, 2nd Avenue Poetry and much more.

More information at: tpsny.org

And of course, I am back at Knit for Trees until the end of August.
Hope to see you there!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekend in Pittsburgh

I went to Pittsburgh over the weekend for the opening of my solo show 24 Hours in the Subway at Box Heart Gallery (www.boxheart.org/nn/wrkshps.html). It was a refreshing 92 degrees there... The opening was fantastic (I sold 5 drawings) and Nicole, the gallery owner, did an amazing job hanging the show and organizing the reception. Thank you to all who came by and gave me great feedback and complimented the work. Check it out if you are in the area!

Box Heart Gallery is in a great neighborhood that reminds me a little bit of what Williamsburg in Brooklyn used to be: an old Italian neighborhood that has great galleries, artists, and (thankfully) no hipsters. Pittsburgh is becoming one of my favorite destinations: I love all the steel bridges, the hilly neighborhood and the friendly people (I heard honking only once in 2 days!). It's also affordable and very artist friendly.

I, of course, could not resist doing a knitting workshop on Sunday while I was there. Some of the guests who were going to attend the opening wanted to donate plastic bags, so one thing led to another and we had a lesson in how to knit with plastic at the gallery. I brought cookies from my favorite bakery in Bay Ridge, and folks brought more pastries for the knitters. A diet weekend, it was not! I also discovered hot cakes on Sunday morning at Pamela's diner on Forbes Ave: a mix of crepe and pancakes, usually served with fruit and cream. I took mine plain, accompanied by eggs, sausage and potatoes. Very reasonable!

I had time after the workshop to go to the Frick Museum in Pittsburgh that had a really nice PAN print exhibit. Best of all, it was free. Just wanted to make sure you knew I'm still thrifty.

In all, I left Brooklyn with a suitcase full of knitting needles and a couple of t-shirts, and came back with a suitcase full of knitting needles, dirty t-shirts and a ton of plastic bags. The local supermarket has blue bags, so I am completely thrilled. Below are some of the photos from the show and the workshop. I will be back on Governors Island this weekend July 30th. I can't wait to show my trees to our friends John and Theresa who will be visiting then.

24 Hours in the Subway at Box Heart

The Sunday workshop

Nicole happily cutting bags!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Yes, I get cranky... but you knew that already!

For those you know me in person, you know that I can be moody, stubborn, and a little too intense with my emotions in general. I have been working on this project for about 5 months now, and I have to admit that I got cranky over the weekend. The installation has been amazing. Unlike a gallery show, I get immediate feedback from visitors. I get to over-hear people's conversations, who don't realize that I am there. I see firsthand the visitors' reactions to the work, and it's been a complete boost to my self-confidence as an artist.

I have had people bring me coffee and cookies because they enjoyed the work so much, they wanted to thank me in some ways; I have had people offer me money because they wanted to support me and future projects; I have had people fix loose threads completely on their own; I have had people come back multiple times because they had just a good time knitting and participating in the work; I have had mothers who had to smooth-talk their child into leaving because their kid didn't want to go; I have had people whisper to me that it was the best show they saw on Governors Island.

So why do I let a few negative comments make me cranky? I truly don't know. The negative comments are not even negative per se: they might be comments from folks who are not familiar with artists and their process ("you must have a lot of free time on your hands") or who do not realize the time, love and energy that must go into a project of that scale ("so is this a hobby?"). I might get one or two such comments every weekend among many many positive comments... yet here it was: I got cranky on Saturday.

My friend Yupin came on Sunday, and we talked about this issue: letting one or two negative comments out of many positive comments, ruin one's mood. She said: "let it go". And I will try, truly, I will try...

I am off to Pittsburgh next weekend for my solo show at Box Heart Gallery: 24 Hours in the Subway (www.boxheart.org/nn/upcom.html). I will be back on Governors Island the last weekend of July. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

On the schedule this weekend

Governors Island is hosting The City of Water Day Festival  from 10am-4pm:
  • Fun and FREE boat tours for thousands on historic and educational vessels
  • A spectacular flotilla of hundreds of kayakers, canoers, and sailors
  • Free kayaking, rowing, and fishing opportunities
  • Dozens of arts, crafts, games, and activities just for kids
  • Catch a FREE ferry between Governors Island & Liberty State Park to enjoy all the activities
  • The Waterfront Activity Fair
  • Car-free waterfront biking
  • Special on-water Launch & Press Event
  • Delicious food, live music, and much more!!!
All the info at www.cityofwaterday.org/

Hope to see you there! 

Monday, July 11, 2011

A friendly weekend

Summer is heating up in NYC, and the temperatures are climbing into the 90's. Fortunately Knit for Trees is in a shaded area of Governors Island, and we had a very nice breeze most of the weekend.

I had two unexpected visits from old friends. Margarita, a classmate from the NY Academy of art, whom I hadn't seen in years came by with her husband Steve and her student Arthur. Margarita knitted her "special" stitch, which she described as the adolescent stitch: full of bumps in the road!

Ingrid and her husband Cory came with their two children, Tristan and Sera. Ingrid and I are friends from our video-gaming days in Boston. We mostly knitted and caught up with each others' lives, which was quite lovely!

My intern Heather came back from California, where she visited her family and got some well deserved rest. We spent a really nice Sunday afternoon together... I even taught her how to crochet! A few families came by for a second time around to knit, and a lot of folks came by to drop off their plastic bags: we must be doing something right!

And of course, if you already are friends with me on Facebook, you already know the best comment/question of the weekend:

Is this your husband's idea or yours?

Friday, July 8, 2011

A fifth tree is covered

Last Saturday was very sedate, with folks taking their time, and relaxing. Sunday's weather was so bad, that absolutely no one came to Governors Island... and I decided not to set up. I took the opportunity to look at the other exhibits on the island that I hadn't had a chance to see. The New York Electronic Art Festival is definitely worth seeing, especially the exhibit in Fort Jay (click here for more details).

I took a couple of days this week to install a fifth tree, and to add panels to the largest tree. That tree has a cockroach living in it, that usually gets very agitated when I attach new panels. Mr. Roachie came by Thursday, slowly looked around, gave a wink and a nod, and left. I think he approves of the work done so far. The other tree has an anthill, and the ants were not amused. They spent the day going up and down very rapidly, and climbed up my arms any chance they got to express their displeasure. What can I say? Not everyone appreciates art!

The forecast for the weekend looks pretty good, and I will be back in full force on Saturday. For the gourmands out there, Governors Island is hosting Cook Out NYC on Sunday, starting at noon. Tickets are a little pricey, and you can purchase them in advance at http://cookoutnyc.com/

Hope to see you this weekend!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Fourth of July

Monday July 4th is my parents' anniversary. In their honor, the city of New York will have fireworks, as well as many cities across the U.S. Thank you!

There are no special events on Governors Island this weekend, but you can see all the summer long exhibits:
  • Figment's Minigolf Course
  • Figment's Sculpture Garden (where of course, you will find Knit for Trees!)
  • Mark di Suvero sculpture exhibit
  • TheSculptors Guild's exhibit
  • Children's Museum of the Arts Free Art Island Outpost
  • Big Apple Circus Family Fun Fest (Trapeze school)
  • Bodies, Borders and Crossings presented by the Finnish Cultural Institute of New York
... and many more!

Happy Fourth of July everyone!      

Monday, June 27, 2011

Photo Gallery

Today is my birthday (and I have a late meeting anyway!) so this blog was composed last week and scheduled to post today. How clever! When Dan came with me to Governors Island during Punk Island, he took some great photos that I haven't gotten a chance to show yet. This was a great opportunity to post some of them, and a special video, where I chant a little knitting mantra with some children. Enjoy!

Friday, June 24, 2011

On the schedule this weekend for Governors Island:

Michael Arenella and the Dreamland Orchestra
Jazz Age Dance Party, 11 AM – 5 PM
Saturday and Sunday June 25-26

Tickets are $7 in advance or $10 on Governors Island.
For more information, visit www.dreamlandorchestra.com

And of course, Knit for Trees!
You can see some of the latest photos on my website:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Punk Island knits!





Punk Island was this past weekend on Governors Island and we had a blast! Dan came out to help me, so we both had the opportunity to knit, and to go watch some of the bands. As you can see from the photo above, it is best to knit with protective gear during punk weekend!

Governors Island hosts Punk Island every summer, and the best part of the place is that loud bands and picnic-goers can co-exist very peacefully in the park. Where else can you see a punk band perform in front of a beautiful Di Suvero sculpture?! The weather was gorgeous, and we had a lot of people stop by to knit, pay us compliments or just relax in the shade. 

We are well on our way to have a fifth tree done at the end of June, thanks to all the knitters out there! Thank you Noelle for making a lovely crochet flower that I will attach to the first tree when the new panels go up. And thank you Dan for being fantastic support staff over the weekend! 

Here's the man hard at work:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Punk Island this weekend!

My favorite weekend on Governors Island: Punk Island!
Bands play from 11 AM to 5 PM on Sunday June 19.

All the bands and info are listed on: makemusicny.org/schedule/feature/punk-island/

And of course, in between moshing, come and knit with me in Figment's Sculpture Garden (ask for the mini-golf on Liggett Terrace). I am there Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 5, and Dan is making a special knitting appearance on Sunday... you don't want to miss it!

Monday, June 13, 2011

I'm going to be on Japanese TV!

Figment had their big art festival June 10-12, and though the weather did not cooperate on Saturday (drizzly and cloudy all day), the crowds came out to participate in this unique cultural event. I want to thank Sarah for volunteering to stay with me all day Saturday in the cold and rain: she was a real trooper giving knitting lessons while her lips slowly turned blue... and of course, a big thank to Heather for helping me Sunday.

Knit for Trees was in great shape this weekend, as I had gone to Governors Island during the week to wrap a fourth tree, and put in all the panels that folks have knitted the last two weekends on the island, as well as many other pieces that were generously donated by knitter helpers. The large tree now has two of its branches started and looks dashing!

On Saturday, a Japanese public TV station interviewed me, and videotaped folks knitting and the installation. The show will air at the end of June but unfortunately will not be web-cast. I was also interviewed by El Mundo, and I am waiting to find out when the article comes out. A lot of press, a lot of compliments, new friends and old friends coming by to look at the work, are making me feel very good about this project so far. I can't wait to see how many trees we can cover before Labor Day weekend, and who knows? May be Knit for Trees Tokyo is next!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

FIGMENT NYC 2011 this weekend!

FIGMENT is an explosion of creative energy. It’s a free, annual celebration of participatory art and culture where everything is possible. For one weekend each summer, it transforms Governors Island into a large-scale collaborative artwork – and then it’s gone.

More information on Figment's website: newyork.figmentproject.org/figment-nyc-2011/

Here are some of the sculptures on Liggett Terrace on view the entire summer:

Monday, June 6, 2011

You must be This Tall to ride this ferry!

This weekend drew an interesting crowd to Governors Island. On Sunday, the champagne Veuve Clicquot sponsored a polo match. At the 11 am ferry, throngs of well dressed men and women lined up to board the ferry: women in beautiful sundresses, high heels and elaborate hats were making me feel slightly under dressed, and definitely short!

My discomfort was alleviated by an adoring fan on the island, who gave me chocolate chip cookies and bought me a cup of coffee: yes, I am that easy! Rose and her husband Rich stopped by with their children. Rich, who first didn't want to learn how to knit, finally sat for a tutorial, and ended up spending a couple of hours knitting with me and Rose. As you can see, he's a very happy customer!

Although Saturday had been really busy and saw a steady stream of people stopping by, Sunday was a little slower, which gave me the opportunity to do more work and finally attach some of the panels that friends have given me the last few weeks:

Photo courtesy of Bruce Monroe

New panels from Bernette, Liz, Megan and Willie have made it possible to reach the first branch of the largest tree.

As I write this, the post office just delivered the latest shipment from my mother and sister, who have been so instrumental in making this project a success. I will hang the panels this week, and hope to give them their own tree!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mark di Suvero on Governors Island

The exhibition is the largest outdoor presentation of Mark di Suvero's sculptures to be shown in New York City since the 1970s and includes loans from public and private collections, including a number of sculptures from Storm King Art Center's own celebrated installation of the artist's work in Orange County, New York. The exhibition is free and located throughout the island's public spaces. Presented by the Storm King Art Center.

Mark di Suvero's exhibit will be up on Governors Island for the entire summer of 2011.

While you are there looking at these amazing sculptures, come look at Figment's sculpture garden at Liggett Terrace, and see works like these:

And of course, come visit us at Knit for Trees:

Monday, May 30, 2011

Opening weekend a wild success!

Governors Island has officially opened to the public this Memorial Day weekend. We had absolutely gorgeous weather, and an estimated 35,000 visitors came by the island this weekend!

Knit for Trees was a huge hit! My friend Bernette stopped by on Saturday and dropped off a beautiful crochet panel that she had made for the project. It is now on the largest tree and I have reached the first branch. I had several repeat customers: Irene and her husband (a knitting addict) who had attended a workshop in New Jersey stopped by to knit and look at the work; and Ursula stopped by both Saturday and Sunday. A little girl insisted I take a donation from her and was very disappointed when I refused!

Thank you for everyone who attended and participated in the project this weekend.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Governors Island opens tomorrow!

Governors Island opens to the public tomorrow, Friday May 27, 2011
and Knit for Trees is ready!

Knit for Trees is in the Sculpture Garden at Liggett Terrace
Drop off your plastic bags or sit and knit with me
Every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 pm

Here are some of the latest photos:

How to get there:

The Governors Island ferry is FREE & departs from the Battery Maritime Building next to the Staten Island Ferry in Lower Manhattan.
Schedule nfo at: www.govisland.com/html/home/home.shtml

1 to South Ferry station - 4, 5 to Bowling Green station- R to Whitehall St.