Fastnet: Plein-Air Drawing Exhibition Brings Freshkills Park to Central Park Gallery

Attendees of an observational drawing workshop in the Fastnet container

Fastnet: Plein-Air Drawing at Freshkills Park is an exhibition of plein-air drawings and ink studies of Freshkills Park that were produced through a series of workshops held within a 20-foot shipping container called Fastnet. The exhibition will be on display at the Arsenal Galley in Central Park from September 13th – November 14th. 

Fastnet was purchased from the Port of New Jersey by artist James Powers in 2015. It was converted into a studio and project space with a skylight, wood pellet heating, and solar electric. The title for the structure, Fastnet, is inspired by the lighthouse of the same name off the West Coast of Ireland. Since then, Fastnet has hosted group and solo art exhibitions, ikebana flower arrangements, oyster trap building, and even a traveling Finnish sauna. It has resided in Red Hook, Brooklyn; Mana Contemporary in Jersey City; Ray Smith Studio in Gowanus; and most recently, at the developing Freshkills Park on Staten Island.

The Plein-Air drawing workshops are sited in the central “Confluence” section of Freshkills Park, an area formerly used by the NYC Department of Sanitation for landfill operations. Planned as a future cultural and waterfront hub, the Studio (container) opens onto a view of the Park’s interior waterways and surrounding hills. From this vantage point, the landscape of Freshkills Park prompts discussion about the human-nature relationship and what is “natural” in a completely engineered topography. Powers, in affiliation with the Freshkills Park art program, invites school groups and the public for plein-air landscape drawing lessons led by himself and other NYC-based practicing artists. Plein-air is a style of painting developed in mid-19th century France, characterized by the luminous effects of natural light and atmosphere specific to painting outdoors and representing the scene in front of the artist. Participants are encouraged to create a visual awareness of the landscape through observational drawing and discussion – to develop a renewed understanding of environmental stewardship.

The work produced in the Fastnet workshops represents early, firsthand responses to the elements of Freshkills Park, forming a visual record of landfill-to-park development. Freshkills Park on a whole expresses possibilities in recycling and transforming land. Toward a similar end, Fastnet imagines a world where artifacts of industry like a shipping container, which typically transports the consumer goods that eventually rest in landfills, can be repurposed into vehicles for artistic production and engagement with the environment.

Exhibition Information

The Arsenal Gallery, Central Park 830 Fifth Ave. at 64th Street, Third Floor
Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  Closed holidays // Free admission

Opening Reception: Thursday, September 12, 2019, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Admission to programming is free but space is limited. To RSVP, or for accessibility information, email artandantiquities@parks.nyc.gov. For more information, call (212) 360-8114 or visit nyc.gov/parks/art.

This exhibition is presented by NYC Parks, curated by Mariel Villere of the Freshkills Park Development Team, and supported by the Freshkills Park Alliance and Con Edison. For more information see www.freshkillspark.org and visit the project website: www.fastnet.nyc

To attend a Fastnet drawing workshop at Freshkills Park, visit the calendar of freshkillspark.org to see dates and times and RSVP.

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