art on governors island

July 28, 2010 |  Category:   art + design life nyc outings

There are a lot of abandoned buildings and houses on Governors island, including churches, a fort and even a castle, but the examples of Colonial and Greek Revival architecture, particularly the yellow wood frame houses that were used as military housing, have been the ones that I’m most curious about (I have an interest in abandoned buildings). I don’t recall any of the houses being open to the public last year, but this year a not-for-profit group called No Longer Empty have curated site specific installations by a dozen and a half artists inside the houses of Colonel Row.

Thank god for art. I have to admit I was a little overwhelmed by how increasingly commercial and crowded the island had become, but stepping into these old houses instantly restored what I had loved about the island last year – a place not touched by time, eerily full of ghosts and a feeling of being transported to a different place, but not knowing exactly which place. It was a much needed break from the circus outside that was our visit last Friday.

Btw, have you checked out the plans for the future build out of the island? I have no idea what’s going on in these renderings (you gotta love those people dropped into architectural drawings). It all looks very interesting.

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  • Caddy July 28, 2010 at 9:14 am

    I’d love to see these installations. Governor’s island seems like such a fascinating place. Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist recently featured photos of a Jazz Age themed party that took place there.

  • bronwyn July 28, 2010 at 9:23 am

    The butterflies and cats piece is really amazing. So are the little structures in the 10th photo. Imagine if you didn’t know there was an exhibit going on. Just stumbling accross these instillations in an abandoned house. Very creepy. I love this.

  • Lani July 28, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Wow. I would love to go there, too. I like the butterflies, too, and the bed cover. Amzing.

  • mina July 28, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I’m with you Jenna on loving Governor’s Island. It does feel less “private” this year, and plans to Disney-fy it in the future are scary. I hope they can still preserve that unique eerie feel to it. There’s a NY public school opening on it this fall as well…guess everything has to change at some point.

  • Hyun July 28, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Thanks for capturing the art! It’s refreshing to see the art through your photo lenses. I’m also reminded I need to bring in art to my world.

  • monica of hola!design July 28, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    I’ve been meaning to go all summer, I’ll definitely go this weekend, I’ll ride my bike and take a look at those abandoned houses, I am, too fascinated by them.
    I understand why they’re trying to improve the island and attract more people, but i love the nostalgic feel of the island, better be going this year before it doesn’t look like governors island at all!
    awesome pics, as usual.

  • Melissa July 28, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Beautiful – thank you for sharing (I’m particularly smitten with the butterflies.)

  • Kitty July 29, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Interesting! I wish I saw these in person.
    Our Biennale here is nearly ending and I’m not sorry to see it go as I was rather disappointed with the works.
    Hehe sometimes architectural renderings are a bit silly. I’m not always keen on renderings. Sometimes good old models are best.

  • Lili July 29, 2010 at 12:50 am

    Seeing these photos of the art installations is making me kick myself for not making it a point to visit Gov’s Island sooner this summer! The crops chosen for the photos make the setting absolutely surreal! 🙂

  • Becky K July 30, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    amazing stuff. Do you read Sweet Juniper? He does some incredible photo essays on Detroit’s abandoned buildings that are beautiful and haunting. Some here:

  • Janet Rhoads August 3, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Jenna I absolutely love your blog and this post really stayed with me. Just wanted to let you know that I wrote about it on my blog today ( I am downright obsessed with those butterflies. I wonder if there is like a “Butterfly Fancy” magazine like they have “Dog Fancy” and “Cat Fancy”. I feel the need to cut out hundreds of butterflies and stick them on a wall! Thanks again for letting me vicariously live in NYC for a couple of minutes each day!