Dennis Oppenheim: Garden of the Accused
Central Park & the Arsenal Gallery,
Through November 8
There’s no way around it: Dennis Oppenheim’s latest public installations are ugly. One wonders if he considered the fact that after a few weeks in their downtrodden surroundings, the brightly colored constructions — stylized models of trees, bushes and rocks — would get filthy, broken and overturned by drunk (or angry) passersby. Given the title of the piece (ostensibly a reference to the fact that the downtown installation is next to a building housing courtrooms and a jail), Oppenheim anticipated this. And so we must consider the resulting sculptures, eyesores that they are, all a part of this celebrated artist’s mysterious agenda. Most of the work is created out of pre-fabricated items: milk crates, plastic dog houses and patio furniture populate the tops of the metal “trees;” generic-looking squares and spheres make the ends of the “bush” branches, and piping and sheeting are combined for vaguely rock-like effects. Oppenheim is drawing a contrast here between what’s natural and what’s not, bringing the concept of a man-made park to an absurd extreme.
Matthew Geller: Awash
Collect Pond Park, Leonard St.
Through November 30
It’s a wonder that all the bench-sitters in Collect Pond Park (which isn’t nearly as bucolic as it sounds, by the way) don’t relocate to Matthew Geller’s giant swing. Scads of people lounge on the communal seating surrounding the understatedly inspiring piece, but few actually seem to be interested in trying it for themselves. Too bad for them. The three sturdy benches swing smoothly from their metal chains below a clear plastic roof, over which flows a steady stream of water. Gazing up at the sky through a gurgling brook is transfixing and soothing. Here is a portable solution to the chaos of the city; a bit of zen for your lunchbreak.