Is it a stair case? A a small farm? Or a piece of art?
It’s all three.
On Wednesday, October 13, city Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan unveiled the ARTfarm installation that enhances the streetscape at 180 E. 165th Street and Caroll Place. The work, which includes new paint, more than a dozen recycled planters, and a general rehabilitation of the decaying concrete is part of the city’s artwork series through the DOT’s Urban Art Program.
“This is now a great space for kids and the community to use,” Sadik-Khan said before a crowd of community members and third-graders from P.S. 73. “This is hugely important for the neighborhood.”
For the past few months, community members along with crews from DOT, and members of the nearby Bronx Museum of the Arts worked to design the new staircase and perform the installations.
Before the work, the location looked like many staircases in the area: rusty railings, cracked steps and sidewalks, weeds popping up in every nook and cranny of the broken cement.
The residents, along with members of the Bronx Museum for the Arts, were the driving forces behind the project’s design. The group worked with the nearby Bronx Museum of the Arts,to host a workshop for local school children and community members to paint many of the medium-sized planters.
“The steps have been a fantastic project and a great collaboration,” said Holly Block, executive director of the Bronx Museum of the Arts. “Learning to collaborate with the community and to see how this space is used on a daily basis was great. Everybody needs to water these plants and we look forward to seeing you in the spring when everything blooms.”
The garden will remain in place for up to 11 months and will be maintained by the studio, the Bronx Museum of the Arts and local residents, including the students from P.S. 73. The DOT will help in coordinating maintenance of the site, including rehabilitation, repairs,fixing cracks and relaying cobblestones.
Now the spot looks like a cross between a newly rehabilitated stairway and an art installation, with a variety of painted planters dotting the hill that the staircase cuts through. The program is part of the city’s initiative World Class Streets program that is aimed at changing the public atmosphere in the city by recasting the streets and sidewalks as safer, more inviting and attractive places for residents to live.
“From concrete steps streets to chain link fences on ordinary street corners, we’re bringing art to streetscapes citywide to redefine these in-between spaces,” Sadik-Khan said. “With the help of our local partners, New Yorkers are rediscovering slices of neighborhoods near and far through colorful artwork that makes these places more attractive, welcoming destinations for everyone.”
ARTfarms projects can also be seen at Maize Field at Bergen and Smith streets in Brooklyn. It is composed of a corn field surrounded by a granite wall with seating.Benches along Allen Street in Manhattan made from recycled wood were also part of the ARTfarm project.