Category Archives: Governors Island

Painting Governors Island, a Different Side of New York

The students of ‘Painting Governors Island’ are really lucky.  They set up easels in the fields and on the piers for an intense three weeks of painting en plein air with the island almost completely to themselves. The ferry ride across the river feels like a passage into a different state of mind, far removed from New York. The landscape creates startling and challenging compositions; cupolas and brick structures with painted white details mesh with the thick clusters of trees.  There are moments, inside the empty fort, surrounded by sky and brick, that are startlingly quiet.  Then, around a corner, the spiked mass of steel and glass of Lower Manhattan covers the horizon.  The colors of nature clash with the industrial backdrop of the Brooklyn seaport.  Ferries, tugboats and helicopters move ceaselessly through the channel; but, if you’re lucky, the lone three masted sailboat will glide quietly into your composition.  Students work diligently on their own, carving out order from the unusual landscape, while Elisa Jensen and guests provide support and gather the class for group critiques.

Governors Island is in the midst of a rapid transition.  What was once a crumbling military base is turning into an important center for the contemporary arts.  Mark di Suvero’s painted steel sculptures are a burst of color in a green field, artists in residence create installations across the island and work in the studios near the ferry, and the Governors Island Art Fair crowds the island every summer.  On the weekends, Governors Island is a hub for concerts, installations, festivals and food; but, during the week, its the roaming ground for NYSS artists searching for a powerful image.

Attached see images of student work, as well as photos from the exhibition currently on view in the Student Gallery on 8th Street.  Find more information about the program here.

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