They say there’s always magic in the air on Broadway, but this summer there will also be some real-life fairytale creatures watching over New York’s most famous avenue.
In Dreams Awake brings six towering statues that “delightfully break the boundaries between art, the urban environment, nature, dream and reality” to Broadway’s pedestrian malls from 64th to 157th streets. The statues are the work of narrative artist Kathy Ruttenberg, internationally renowned for blending the human form with animal features and even plants to create her ethereal sculptures.
Though Ruttenberg’s work has been featured in museums and galleries since the 1980s, this is her first outdoor installation and called for a little extra creativity. Cast from bronze, mosaic glass and liquid plastic, her figures fit into their surrounding landscapes to intentionally blur the lines between reality and fantasy.
Across from Lincoln Center, a tree dressed with her roots flared out in a tutu performs on a pedestal; Ms. Mighty Mouse longs for the cheese counter at Zabar’s on 79th Street; and near Columbia University on 117th Street, instead of Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders, an upside-down woman balances the Earth on her feet.
“The pace of the city contrasts with the rhythms of nature, raising questions of what effect this disparity has on the human psyche,” the artist says in a statement. “Man’s relationship to nature is an underlying concern throughout my work. As the inhabitants of the natural world are increasingly displaced by urban and suburban sprawl, I find myself using anthropomorphic fables to return nature’s creatures to our human consciousness.”
In Dreams Awake will be fully installed by Friday, April 27 and remain on view through February 2019. This is Ruttenberg’s first major outdoor sculpture installation, a co-production of NYC Parks and the Broadway Mall Association. The BMA has been working to beautify and maintain Broadway’s pedestrian malls for more than 30 years and launched its Art on the Malls program in 2005 with more than 20 artists featured so far.