The more we are accustomed to seeing something the less likely we are to appreciate its beauty. But not Karlis Rekevics, an emerging New York-based artist who creates complex white plaster sculptures that engage with the built environment and capture an often-overlooked urban landscape.
Rekevics was selected as this year’s winner of the annual Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award. Clare Weiss, the former Public Art Curator for Parks, curated over 100 outdoor public art installations throughout the city. After her death in 2010 the Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award was established to honor her memory. The $10,000 award is granted annually to one emerging artist who practices in a neighborhood typically underserved by public art.
Rekevics was recognized for his All-Too-Familiar-Tangle, a sculpture that was built specifically for Tappen Park and honors the architectural history of Stapleton, Staten Island, an underdeveloped suburban neighborhood that is a mere twenty five minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan.
In creating the sculpture Rekevics was inspired by the local architectural elements surrounding Tappen Park that people rarely pay attention to. After carefully studying the different architectural forms, or the bones, that make up the suburban borough, like bridge supports, store facades, guardrails, signs, and scaffolding, he built a series of plywood molds and filled them with cast hydrocal (white gypsum cement) on site.
Rekevics commented in a statement, “While the sculptures take their starting point from real places, they are more about the way that memory and my improvisational process transforms them into a new place with a physical and metaphorical language.” Rather than take identical cast molds of the forms Rekevics constructs them from memory; the outcome is a fragmented, subjective perception of the original form. Rekevics then “tangles” the imperfect pieces together to form a single sculpture.
Park visitors might see All-Too-Familiar Tangle and be reminded of things that they know they’ve seen but can’t quite put their finger on, like the wooden bollards lining the coast near the Staten Island Ferry, the neo-classical limestone columns and rounded portico entryway of the Staten Island Savings Bank on Water Street, and the dormer window details from the park’s historic Village Hall. Rekevic’s inventive sculpture is a rare celebration of Staten Island’s architectural history. The sculpture will be on view in Tappen Park until June 2014.(COURTESY NYC PARKS AND RECREATION)