New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today unveiled “There is No Us Without U,” a temporary, movable art exhibit at Downtown Brooklyn’s Willoughby Plaza developed in collaboration with the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System (VA NYHHS) and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership featuring new art display cases with pieces by U.S. military veterans. The exhibit is composed of 10 outdoor display cases featuring artwork by intergenerational veterans currently participating in the VA NYHS hospital’s creative art therapy program based in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The installation is the first in a series of a new Urban Art Program initiative that uses these movable cases to bring temporary urban art to public spaces across the five boroughs. “There is No Us Without U” will be at Willoughby Plaza through August and then will be relocated to other public plazas in the city. The Commissioner was joined by representatives from the Mayor’s Office for Veteran Affairs, VA NYHHS, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Architecture Research Office (ARO) and several of the veteran artists at Willoughby Plaza to announce the inaugural exhibit.
“Art can transform a sidewalk, street and a fence into an outdoor gallery that reminds us that our streetscapes are colorful, vibrant places to see and enjoy,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “These new, movable cases will make it easier for artists and partners to bring temporary art to their communities across the city.”
The 10 art display cases will host rotating exhibitions that will move to plazas throughout the five boroughs. DOT will partner with institutions and individual artists to curate the cases. The prototype case was originally exhibited in spring and summer 2012 at Bogardus Plaza and Water and Whitehall Plaza in Manhattan. The structure was designed by ARO, an award-winning architecture and urban design firm based in New York City, and fabricated by Goetz Composites, a leader in custom composite construction based in Rhode Island.
The Veteran Support Center, based at the Brooklyn VA, is an art therapy program designed to help Veterans with creative self-expression, growth and self-understanding. The program is run by the Recreation Service at the hospital and has been helping Veterans with self-expression and healing for many years. For this installation, veterans were asked to explore their initial encounters with their family, each other and, more broadly, the public upon arrival back home while participating in numerous art therapy sessions. Veterans shared their experiences with one another prior to transferring these emotions and memories onto paper using collage and mixed media techniques. The completed collages were then reproduced as vinyl graphics and adhered to the surface of the art display cases.
The following veterans contributed to this exhibition: Hector Acevedo (Persian Gulf War Veteran), Eric Adshead (US Navy), Chumagali Ali (Vietnam Veteran), Chaishiv Balram (Iraq Veteran), Lateef Bost (Iraq Veteran), Louis Robert Cadet (Persian Gulf Veteran), Juan Carlos Cifuentes (Persian Gulf War Veteran), Carlos Cole (Iraq Veteran), Sheridan Dean (Vietnam Veteran), Gennaro Deluca (Vietnam Veteran), Arice Edouard (Vietnam Era Veteran), Tanisha General (US Army), Felicia Foster (US Army), John Graham (US Army), Tanisha General (US Army), Ramon Gutierrez (US Marine), Jerome Hart (Vietnam Veteran), William Hunter (Vietnam Veteran), Mavis John (US Army), Nathaniel Lewis (Vietnam Veteran), Mei Jun Li (Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran), Luis Loperena (US Marine), Warren McGill (US Army), Thomas Matonti (Vietnam Veteran), Tyron Murdaugh (Iraq War Veteran), Michael Santoro (Vietnam Veteran), Ferdinand Sabat (US Navy), Peter Schoenhardt (US Navy) and Phil Zimelman (Vietnam Era Army Veteran).
Launched in October 2008, DOT’s Urban Art Program invigorates the city’s streetscapes with engaging temporary art installations. It partners with community-based organizations and artists to present murals, sculptures, projections, and performances on plazas, fences, barriers, bridges, and sidewalks for up to 11 months. Projects are presented within three program tracks: pARTners, Barrier Beautification, and Arterventions.
For more information, visit nyc.gov/urbanart.