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Across New York, a Summertime Tour of Public Art

Sheila Hicks

For several years the curator Cecilia Alemani has led an ambitious public art program for the High Line, and this year she has given over its northern stretches to the pioneering fiber artist Sheila Hicks, an American in Paris. For “Hop, Skip, Jump, and Fly: Escape From Gravity,” Ms. Hicks has laid down 200 meters of serpentine aluminum tubes wrapped in colorful, weatherproof textiles; green cylinders are camouflaged in the undergrowth, while brilliant blue loop-de-loops crawl out of the brush. As so often with Ms. Hicks, it’s her colors that make the strongest impact: The work’s scorching yellows and reds sneak up like snakes in the grass. The High Line, 30th Street and 11th Avenue, through March 2018.

Josiah McElheny

The sculptor and glassblower Josiah McElheny has plopped down three pavilions in Madison Square Park’s fenced-off central lawn; a green disc, a red arch and a blue baffle with circular cutouts that look like a giant Connect Four game board. They sit impassively during the day, but serve as stages for readings and performances all summer. This week, they welcome the Merce Cunningham Dance Company alumni Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Reiner, whose performers were flexing their spines and executing some tentative caprioles when I visited at dusk a few nights ago. Regrettably, whatever force Mr. McElheny’s pavilions have is vitiated by the park’s neurosis about the grass. Watching the dancers from behind the waist-height fence, I felt as if I were at the zoo. Madison Square Park, 25th Street and Fifth Avenue, through Oct. 8.

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Marilyn Minter’s “Resist” flag atop the headquarters of Creative Time.

Credit
Philip Greenberg for The New York Times

Marilyn Minter

Stand outside Phebe’s, the bar beloved by New York University students on the corner of Fourth Street and the Bowery, and crane your neck toward the building opposite. The headquarters of Creative Time, the public art group, has invited artists to fly a flag from its rooftop for its serial exhibition “Pledge of Allegiance” — and its first participant, the painter Marilyn Minter, has raised a drippy standard whose fluorescent letters spell RESIST. Subtle? Not especially. But hoisting any flag is no act of resignation, and Ms. Minter got into the spirit of the exercise, viewing the public sphere as in a state of emergency. (Later will come flags from Jeremy Deller, Ann Hamilton, Yoko Ono, Rirkrit Tiravanija and many others.) Creative Time, 59 East Fourth Street.

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Katja Novitskova’s “Earth Potential (E. coli)” in City Hall Park.

Credit
Philip Greenberg for The New York Times

Katja Novitskova

Placed throughout City Hall Park, fleeting digital images become tangible in the hands of this young artist, who appropriates freely available imagery from scientific and astronomical websites and prints them on aluminum flats. Katja Novitskova, who is representing Estonia at this year’s Venice Biennale, likes to emphasize the dissolution of scale that digital images allow: E. coli bacteria and embryonic stem cells are blown up to human height; a roundworm is magnified to appear as large as an image of Saturn’s earthlike moon, Titan. If there’s any special reason these works appear outdoors, it’s a cynical one: For her, every tree and passer-by eventually becomes, through digital capture, an advertisement for itself. City Hall Park, Broadway and Chambers Street, through Nov. 9.

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Anish Kapoor’s “Descension” in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Credit
Philip Greenberg for The New York Times

Anish Kapoor

While Mr. Koons goes for monumentality with balloons pumped full of hot air, Anish Kapoor proposes an antimonolith for Brooklyn Bridge Park: a circular fountain, 26 feet in diameter, from which water doesn’t gush forth but is sucked into the earth instead. “Descension,” which Mr. Kapoor earlier installed at the Palace of Versailles, is also a spectacle of sound: The drain rumbles loudly while the mucky, mushroom-colored water is inhaled into the ground. Its aspiratory abyss, which may put you in mind of a toilet with the handle stuck, has rather blunt metaphorical resonance in today’s America. But don’t tell that to the kids flocking to its edge: They love it. Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1, through Sept. 10.

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