Even a fence can make a statement.
Three weeks ago No Longer Empty, a nonprofit that turns empty spaces into temporary art galleries, teamed up with The Biking Public Project, an advocacy group for underrepresented bicyclists, to install a series of portraits of bicyclists on the fences surrounding the Long Island City clock tower.
The four photos inconspicuously hang on the fence next to the Queens Plaza E, M and R stop on Northern Boulevard. They aren’t that big — about 2 feet tall — and can almost be overlooked amongst the hustle and bustle of the plaza, but they are trying to make a big statement.
“It does the bicycling movement a great service to expand its image so that all New Yorkers can relate to the bicycle as a vehicle for cheap transportation, health, and mobility,” said Helen Ho, development director at Recycle-A-Bicycle and co-founder of The Biking Public Project.
Like our city, the photos are a mix of gender and ethnicity. The three men and one woman were captured with their wheels — a good cross section of collapsible models, to fixies and standard road bikes — in Queensboro Plaza last year.
“This installation creates a welcoming entry into the Queens Plaza North that engages both pedestrians and those cars stuck in traffic,” said No Longer Empty Executive Director Naomi Hersson-Ringskog. “[They] will literally add a friendly smile to the street.”
No Longer Empty curated the show “How Much Do I Owe You?” about the good and bad sides of those expensive green pieces of paper we keep in our wallets, at the clock tower, which closed in March.
This is No Longer Empty’s second foray into the world of bikes. Last year in the Bronx the organization worked with artists Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos Fermin to address the lack of interborough transportation from that borough through “Boogie Down Rides.” They hosted meetings, lectures and group rides.
“We can bring to light discussions of the everyday cyclist’s frustrations of staking out street space and how their tax dollars are utilized,” Hersson-Ringskog said.