Now that it feels like spring may have actually, finally arrived (please, please, please!), Will Ryman's The Roses seem more fitting (and less like a tease) along the Park Avenue Mall traveling up the road along 57th - 67th Streets. Presented by The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and Paul Kasmin Gallery, Ryman's site-specific installation consists of 38 Godzilla-sized pink and red roses standing between 3 and 25 feet tall with blossoms measuring 5 to 10 feet in diameter. The enormous, whimsical roses made of stainless steel, "yacht-grade" fiberglass resin, auto body paint, and brass were created to endure unpredictable weather — they were covered in over a foot of snow after a blizzard hit the city shortly after they were installed in late January. The charming, colorful, monstrously oversized flowers are accessorized with thorns, leaves, fallen rose petals (mostly scattered along the stretch between 63rd and 65th Streets), as well as Mothra-sized ladybugs, bees, and beetles.
Ryman, a native New Yorker (his parents are painters Robert Ryman and Merrill Wagner), was initially a playwright before becoming an artist known for "large-scale figurative sculptures based on urban scenes and outsized flora," (from Paul Kasmin website). In explaining his installation, Ryman states: "With these roses I wanted to do something that was larger than life and site-specific. In my work I always try to combine fantasy with reality. In the case of The Roses, I tried to convey New York City's larger than life qualities through scale; creating blossoms which are imposing, humorous, and hopefully beautiful." Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe adds, "Park Avenue is known for its beautiful floral displays and Will Ryman's massive roses, ranging between three and twenty-five feet in height, will enliven the area throughout the winter, in anticipation of the arrival of the tulips in the spring."
The Roses, situated in the medians between the traffic lanes on the always bustling Park Avenue, give viewers a "bugs-eye-view" of the flowers, making us feel puny in this big, crazy city. Whether covered in mounds of snow or basking in sunlight, Ryman's dramatic, cheerful, freakishly huge blooms are a delight. Learn more at Paulkasmingallery.com, nycgovparks.org and at the artist's website Willryman.com. Through May 31st.