This is the first winter that Governors Island is open to the public, after announcing last fall that they would now be a year-round destination. And to attract visitors to the ferry during the cold season, Colonels Row has a winter village on weekends, with an ice rink, fire pits and a few concessions. But after today, the Village will be closed, three weeks before the arrival of spring.
Read more: A Guide to Winter on Governors Island
To help celebrate the inaugural race, the Trust for Governors Island, in partnership with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Councilstaged an exuberant ice sculpture exhibition on Saturday, as ten teams of artists transformed blocks of ice into shimmering temporary works of art.
“The goal was to have a really good event in the winter when there’s not a lot of public art, to put money in the hands of the artists, to create new work and to have a moment of joy at a time when we all need a moment of joy,” Meredith Johnson, the trust’s chief curator, told Gothamist.Each team was paid $2,000, courtesy of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.
The ten individual artists (or teams of artists) were chosen from nearly 100 submissions received via an open call from the LMCC last month and, as it turned out, none of them had previous experience. working with ice. Fortunately, a team of pros from Long Island City’s Okamoto Studio were on hand to train them in the use of the tools of the trade – which range from chainsaws to scissors, grinders to torches – and then mentor them through the actual creation.
Each artist was given two hours to complete their piece, and most completed works had some relevance to the New York Harbor location.
Parson’s graduate students Shay Salehi and Rengu Zhang teamed up to make an origami boat, a reference to the 10,000 paper sculptures made in prison by Chinese nationals seeking asylum after their smuggler’s ship, the freighter . Golden companyran aground in 1993 at Fort Tilden.
Yuliya Tsukerman won the People’s Choice Award for her sheep’s head sculpture, which she says was inspired by her lunchtime picnic companions last summer – Flour, Sam, Evening, Chad and Philip Aries – who “worked” on the island gorging on invasive plants. Chad Stayrock was named most ambitious for his off-pedestal sinking, and the Artist’s Choice award went to Hannah Schulman and her infinity symbol.
Read more: The History of Governors Island
Elizabeth Meggs won the Carver’s Choice trophy (which itself was made of ice, of course) for her typographic piece WOW MOM, which she told Gothamist “relates to the people of Lenape who originally lived here and were a matrilineal society”. She added, “Also, after the really sad two years of the pandemic, I just felt like doing something with a good positive message.”
Although the Winter Village ice rink and fire pits will be removed after today, Governors Island remains open to the public daily and Winter Dog Days continue on Saturdays, the only time non-assistance dogs are permitted on the property. The ice sculptures also remain in place to be seen and will melt in place.