Tourist Cabins on Park Avenue were presented by New York City Parks & Recreation and the Park Avenue Sculpture Committee. The small tourist cabin-inspired sculptures—complete with interior lighting and a satellite dish—inhabited the Park Avenue median at 52nd to 53rd Streets for four months in 2007. Tourist Cabins on Park Avenue was my first new, large-scale sculpture in New York since BLUE BRIDGE/red shift in 1993.
"Donna Dennis’s Tourist Cabins on Park Avenue create a thought-provoking juxtaposition between the humble structures and the affluent residences for which the boulevard is known," said Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "While New York bustles along Park Avenue, the small, self-sufficient buildings are isolated in the median and, complete with a satellite dish, suggest a hunger for communication and a connection with the outside world."
The first tourist cabin-sculptures I made were inspired not only by childhood experiences on family trips but also by the way a small building can stand in for a human presence. Each time I have exhibited my cabin-sculptures, the setting—City Hall Park or a river in Aberdeen, South Dakota—has added new meaning. When I thought of placing these tiny houses amid the glass and concrete and noise and bustle of Park Avenue, the constellation-filled ceiling of Grand Central Terminal inspired me to add a satellite dish that would somehow connect them with distant space and the peace and quiet of the star-filled summer night.
My first cabin-inspired sculptures were shown at Holly Solomon Gallery in 1976. Over the years, other cabin-sculptures, roughly ¾ scale, have been exhibited indoors at the Whitney Museum, the Walker Art Center, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, the ICA in London, and the Venice Biennale. Outdoors, they have been seen in such varied settings as New York's City Hall Park, the Storm King Art Center, the Neuberger Museum and on Moccasin Creek in Aberdeen, South Dakota where they were afloat. On Park Avenue, a few blocks above Grand Central Terminal, and in view of the Waldorf Astoria, the cabins will have their most dramatic, provocative setting to date.
A long list of distinguished artists have exhibited on Park Avenue, including Louise Nevelson, Anthony Caro, Deborah Butterfield, Fernando Botero and Kenneth Snelson, Jean DuBuffet, Robert Indiana, and Tom Otterness. Parks & Recreation’s public art program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, collaborations with arts organizations and artists have produced hundreds of public art projects in New York City parks.
Photo Credit: Peter Mauss / Esto