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Queens Chronicle

Not set in stone

Performance art amidst the sculptures at Socrates Park

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Posted: Thursday, August 11, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 2:32 pm, Thu Aug 11, 2011.

On a muggy Sunday artists Patrick Walsh and Jory Rabinovitz manned two sizzling pans full of pancake batter and French toast. A small crowd of people, some living and some of the plaster and stone variety, stood watch.

That was the scene at Astoria’s Socrates Sculpture Park, where “Float,” a biennial exhibition of impermanent artworks, is taking place amidst the park’s more static denizens — a collection of sculptures — through August. A lineup of different artists are set to invade the park every weekend, and if Sunday’s inaugural acts were any indication, they will sing, dance and generally confound audience expectations.

Brooklyn-based art collective Cleopatra’s, headed by Bridget Finn and Bridget Donahue, has curated this year’s show, called “Field of Dreams.” The pair met through gallery connections in Chelsea.

On Sunday, both Bridgets were on hand to try some of Walsh and Rabinovitz’s pancakes. The art duo cooked brunch for all-comers next to a table displaying their lovingly crafted zines. When asked how much a given booklet might cost, Walsh said many were for trade.

Elseswhere, sheltered by a small grove of trees in the park’s shadiest spot, musicians Geo Wyeth and Jules Gimbrone were warming up on a makeshift stage.

Gimbrone said that she and Wyeth, both Bed-Stuy residents, are longtime friends who recently decided to play together. Cellist Reenat Pinchas and saxophonist Karel Vanbeekom would be accompanying them.

“This is the first time we’ve all played in this kind of collaboration,” Vanbeekom said.

Once underway, strains of the band’s poignant, melodic and often funny performance could be heard throughout the park, as visitors sat on the grass to listen or wandered nearby.

Like Float’s art, the sculptures in the park tend toward the quirky and surprising. One piece from a distance appeared to be a children’s playhouse but turned out, on closer inspection, to be a jumble of unscalable angles. Mobiles made of white disks could be seen hanging inside through plastic windows.

Called “Outside and the Other Side” and produced by Steven Millar, this was one of the works on view as part of “Vista,” an exhibit that ended Sunday. Even sculptures, it would seem, get only so much time in the sun.

Underscoring Float’s emphasis on the transitory, Wyeth opened his band’s musical set by repeating the line, “What time are we?” over and over.

Once Wyeth’s set ended, artist Baker Overstreet and his “junkyard band” took over another section of the park. Lara Allen as an angry Raggedy Anne character, Henry Bergstein as a sad clown and Will Jordan on keyboard accompanied Baker, who sang old-timey showtunes and an incredible rendition of Gary Wright’s “Dream Weaver.” The act managed to be both affecting and creepy, a kind of “Sweet and Lowdown” meets David Lynch.

This Friday through Sunday a whole new set of artists will present a completely different work, “Self-Esteem Salon,” during which they will offer visitors cognitive therapy, massage, lessons in costume construction and more, all in a bid, according to the Socrates Sculpture Park’s press office, to raise participants’ self-esteem.

Visitors should be sure to bring plenty of water, a blanket for the park’s patchier spots and an open mind.

‘Float: Field of Dreams’

When: Aug. 12-14, 1-5 p.m. Aug. 21, 1 p.m. to sunset. Aug. 28, 1-5 p.m.

Where: Socrates Sculpture Park

Tickets: Free

(718) 956-1819


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