Jon Isherwood's marble sculptures usher feeling of community on New York's most famous street

Eight sculptures, depicting various gigantic blooming flowers, give viewers the chance to interact with public art, and with each other

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Jon Isherwoods's The Earth Laughs (2020/21)
On loan from the Francis J. Greenburger Collection, New York

Jon Isherwoods's The Earth Laughs (2020/21)
On loan from the Francis J. Greenburger Collection, New York

Along New York’s Upper West Side, as the temperature drops and leaves begin to fall and blend into the cityscape, flowers are in permanent bloom on Broadway.

Eight sculptures by the artist Jon Isherwood have been placed along the green malls that interlace Broadway, from Lincoln Square to up to Washington Heights, in an instillation that brings fully blooming, life-sized flowers carved out of marble to the streets of upper Manhattan.

The blooming flora are large enough to passers-by to sit in. A Gift Between Two, which was placed outside a subway station on 72nd Street and Broadway, consists of two flowers slightly facing each other so that people can sit and recline, perhaps even strike up a conversation. To the artist, flowers are universal, accepted and appreciated by everyone. The eight sculptures, in turn, are meant to act as a bridge between communities, and span over four miles of New York’s most famous through-way, linking desperate neighbourhoods and sparking conversation.

“I chose blooms for Broadway in part because imagery is accessible to the many people that navigate these intersections in their daily lives. They are imbued with a universal symbolism and can create wonder and joy in their discovery. Placing them in a series of locations across neighbourhoods, I hope to promote a sense of interconnectedness in a space that can otherwise feel impersonal, anonymous, and alienating,” Isherwood says.

These marble flowers begin at Dante Park, on 64th Street and Broadway. The final bloom sits almost 100 blocks away, in Ilka Tanya Payán Park on Broadway and 157th Street and all are presented by the Broadway Mall Association, which before this has presented twelve public art exhibitions along Broadway. Carved in expressive, colourful Bardiglio Imperiale, Calacatta Gold, Verde Rameggiato, Fantastico Arni, Rosso Cardinale, Breccia Viola, and Rosa Portogallo marble, the sculptures will be on view until the Spring of 2022.

“Why do we give flowers?” Isherwood writes in his artist statement, “the act can convey love, celebrate accomplishments, offer comfort in grief, repay hospitality, or simply beautify a space and bring personal joy.” These are instances that happen every day, in every community. Broadway Blooms, in a way, shows New Yorkers how similar they are to one another, regardless of where they live.

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