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Soggy Kick-Off to First Park’s First Season

Photos: Lori Greenberg/Bergworks GBM (final photo courtesy Robert Sestok)

Yesterday’s rain washed out the dance performances and children’s events that were to kick off the inaugural season of programming at the former home of the BMW Guggenheim Museum. But that didn’t stop a few die-hard supporters of First Park from clustering around a newly installed sculpture by Robert Sestok.

The Detroit artist was in high spirits as he unveiled First Street Iron, a ten-foot-tall work of welded steel that he said was a “tribute to the city” he often visited. It will remain on display at the plaza between First and Houston Streets, near Second Avenue, until Oct. 22.

As The Local previously reported, Mr. Sestok first became aware of the restoration at 33 First Street well over two years ago because a close friend lived on the block. He was asked to create something for the park before the BMW Guggenheim opened in the once rat-infested lot. Read more…

With BMW Guggenheim Lab Gone, First Street Green Looks to Future

Screen shot 2011-12-13 at 2.46.17 PMNick DeSantis

The first event at the former site of the BMW Guggenheim Lab got off to an unlucky start on Saturday.

Volunteers from First Street Green – the neighborhood organization that helped transform the park from a rat haven to a community event space – put together their “visioning wall” in the shape of a tall arch. Shortly afterward, the afternoon breeze brought the colorful sculpture crashing to the ground in a heap of foam tiles.

Undeterred and in good spirits, the group broke the sculpture apart and continued with the real business of Saturday’s gathering: soliciting ideas from neighbors about the park’s future, which remains in question since the Guggenheim Lab’s departure.

John Bowman, a member of First Street Green, said the two biggest hurdles facing the group are logistics and funding. They plan to use the wintertime, when the park is dormant, to work out permitting and scheduling details. The installation of a sculpture garden has been delayed till spring. Read more…

After The Lab, Lot Will Become Sculpture Garden – and Maybe a Cat Park?

Robert Sestok SculptureCourtesy of Robert Sestok. “First St. Iron.”

What will happen to the BMW Guggenheim Lab once it packs up its video screens and moves on to Berlin? Members of First Street Green – the community group that for years lobbied the city to renovate the lot at Houston Street and Second Avenue – held a brainstorming event at the Lab on Saturday to answer just that. This much is certain: They’ve secured approval from the Parks Department, which owns the land, to install a new sculpture by Robert Sestok, a Detroit-based artist who has been visiting New York for three decades.

Mr. Sestok, who said he has been involved with Detroit’s influential Cass Corridor art movement since the 1970s, called “First St. Iron,” his welded steel sculpture, “a tribute to my past associations with the city of New York.” The piece was inspired by the wrought iron fences lining the streets near a friend’s house in the East Village. Read more…