Photo: Jane Kratochvil, Lukas Doenz, Liz Ligon/Courtesy Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Matt Flynn/Smithsonian Institution
Objects, creators, news and events to know.
“Ever since I was a child, I have been guided by my eye and my heart, and nothing has changed,” says Duro Olowu, the Nigerian-British fashion designer who curated the latest exhibition in the “Selects” series of Cooper Hewitt, which invites artists and designers to resurface favorite pieces from its permanent collection of more than 200,000 pieces. Olowu insisted on visiting the museum warehouse in person to select the works: prints by Niki de Saint Phalle, a copper coin-encrusted table by Cheryl R. Riley, an album cover by Sun Ra, and a number of historical and contemporary textiles. Her selection was guided by the theme of “pattern”, which Olowu says is not about textile prints but about her own way of seeing the world, fueled by curiosity and an insatiable search for honest art. Until August 28.
Photo: Jane Kratochvil
The transformation of Fourteenth Street into armored way from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. was remarkable — and not just because getting around town is so much quicker or because the noise and traffic jams have given way to a rather pleasant walking experience. Part of the work also included the installation of a cheerful and luminous pavement mural: a asphalt-art project that also helps to slow traffic and reduce accidents. This one, by Brooklyn artist Ji Yong Kim, strikingly depicts a koi pond, surely the most placid thing to ever appear on 14th Street. We really should see more of these pedestrian safety interventions all over New York.
Strange springtime shoots sprout at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden: a tiny aluminum hot dog cart, a stacked mahogany totem with round stone cutouts, a dozen flags fluttering in a pond on repurposed plastic jugs. They are all part of “For the birds, an exhibition of 33 birdhouses designed by architects and artists and the latest example of the vanity of designing one thing and in many ways always satisfying. It’s an impressive group here, including Tom Sachs, Steven Holl and Walter Hood. “For the birds” goes even further: each house is adapted to a particular bird species among the many that inhabit the garden.
I was particularly fascinated by the story of Roman and Williams 100 Martin Inn, which was specially designed for the Purple Swallow, a small swallow with dark blue feathers and iridescent wings that glow purple. Humans have a long history of making houses for themselves, gourds that indigenous people carved and placed in agricultural fields to encourage birds to eat harmful insects to Nineteenth century birdhouses with ornate porches and windows. You can even buy pagodas structures specially designed for purple martins at Walmart. Birds now rely on these man-made structures to hold their nests, which has led to a serious problem: there aren’t enough structures for them. Invasive species now dominate areas where purple swallows nest – sometimes killing them and taking over their homes – and their population has been to crash. Structures like this, which look like a stack of traditional gable-roofed nest boxes, could provide the refuges they need. Until October 23.
Photo: Lukas Doenz
More wildlife! During Milan Design Week, New York designer Kickie Chudikova presented an installation inspired by insects. There is a pink and yellow tufted rug whose pattern is based on the shell of Calidea dregii, a spotted-backed beetle; a mouth-blown glass pendant inspired by insect eyes; and a lounge chair that pays homage to a queen bee. Chudikova came up with the idea for the series after learning that 40% of the world’s insect species are threatened with extinction.