NEW YORK, NY – For the fifth consecutive year, Rockefeller Center and Art Production Fund will present the acclaimed Art in Focus public art program, a multidisciplinary, site-specific program that brings contemporary art to Rockefeller Center.
The year-long public program consists of three separate installations beginning January 17, 2023 with Nicaraguan-American artist JOEL GAITAN. Following Gaitan are planned installations by fiber and collage artist BASIL KINCAID, as well as Brooklyn-based painter DOMINIQUE FUNG.
The 2023 group of artists will join a globally recognized community of Art in Focus creatives, building upon the legacies of artists Sanford Biggers, Hiba Schahbaz, Hilary Pecis, Genevieve Gaignard, Hugo McCloud, Maurice Harris, Portia Munson, LaKela Brown, Max Colby, Vanessa German, Arghavan Khosravi, and more.
Curated around a central theme of abstraction, the 2023 Art in Focus program celebrates subjectivity to embrace a sense of escapism and surrealism within dreamlike environments. Viewers may find themselves entranced by the physicality, texture, bold color blocking, or monochrome palettes of the work, challenging their perception of the familiar.
“We’re excited to see each artist’s interpretation of ‘abstraction’ and can’t wait to see how New Yorkers experience and interpret this theme. We are thankful to Art Production Fund for once again helping us tell stories and create moments of reflection at Rockefeller Center.” – EB KELLY, Head of Rockefeller Center and Senior Managing Director at Tishman Speyer
“For five years Art Production Fund has had the honor of partnering with Rockefeller Center on our Art in Focus public program. Each year a group of important artists bring timely and thought-provoking public art to millions of viewers at Rockefeller Center. We look forward to seeing the conversations that are inspired by the work of Joel Gaitan, Basil Kincaid and Dominique Fung in 2023.” – CASEY FREMONT, Executive Director, Art Production Fund
Gaitan’s practice is a profoundly personal exploration of his family ancestry and identity as a first-generation Nicaraguan living in Miami, Florida. This cross-cultural study has brought Gaitan to challenge historical hierarchies within his art practices, liberating terracotta vessels to their exalted position within the sacred traditions from Nicaragua & Central America.
In the lobby of 45 Rockefeller Plaza, layered installations in the vitrine spaces will feature photography, Central American aesthetics, and Gaitan’s terracotta vessels as a celebration of earthly pigments. The windows will include imagery of Nicaragua faces, including some of Gaitan’s family members. The spaces will underscore Gaitan’s spiritual beliefs and connection to the core elements: water, air, wind, and fire, which play vital roles in our life cycle and the laborious process of hand-sculpting and firing terracotta.
Reflecting on life, death, and the afterlife, Gaitan’s terracotta vessels also take on a form of personhood. The 125-foot mural in the concourse of 45 Rockefeller Plaza features voluptuous forms with expressive faces ornamented with jewelry and text. These works are engaged in acts of pleasure as they reclaim and embrace a state that is true to their stories and cultural history.
“I’m excited to be selected as one of the artists for APF this year, especially as my first public art installation in a city I love. My work is about representing the unrepresented. I’m honored to showcase ceramics using traditional techniques and imagery in dialogue with photography, highlighting the Nicaraguan people, from which I draw my inspiration.” – JOEL GAITAN, Art In Focus Artist
Visitors can enjoy Gaitan’s murals which feature his signature use of bold and vibrant colors inside 10 Rockefeller Plaza, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 50 Rockefeller Plaza, and the street and concourse levels of 45 Rockefeller Plaza. A special thanks to Bakehouse Art Complex in Miami, FL.
JOEL GAITAN (b.1995) develops a creative practice that studies self-identity, sexuality, and ancestral lineage through clay. Believing that “storytelling is the poetry of life,” Gaitan highlights Nicaragüense lifestyle and aesthetics through his traditional hand-built terracotta vessels. Gaitan’s practice is multi-faceted and layered as he highlights various colors, styles, and forms in his work, facilitating space for viewers to celebrate Central American traditions. Gaitan has presented solo exhibitions at KDR305, Miami, FL; Fairfax Dorn Projects, East Hampton, NY; 56 Henry, New York, NY; was highlighted at NADA Art Fair 2021; and has been featured in multiple editorial publications, including but not limited to, Cultured Mag, W Magazine, and Artnet News.
ART IN FOCUS is a multidisciplinary program that showcases installations by contemporary artists inspired by the New York City landscape and contemporary life. Artists featured in the series will have their work displayed in a number of prominent and unexpected public locations throughout Rockefeller Center. Art in Focus is presented in partnership with Rockefeller Center and Art Production Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to commissioning and producing ambitious public art projects, reaching new audiences, and expanding awareness through contemporary art. Past Art in Focus artists include Joana Avillez, Hein Koh, Portia Munson, LaKela Brown, Lucy Sparrow, Angelica Hicks, Vanessa German, Ryan Flores, Genevieve Gaignard, Oliver Jeffers, Hiba Schahbaz, Sanford Biggers, Hilary Pecis, Maurice Harris, Lisa Congdon, Max Colby, Hugo McCloud, Emily Mullin, Arghavan Khosravi, and most recently Lorraine Nam.
TISHMAN SPEYER (www.tishmanspeyer.com)
Tishman Speyer is a leading owner, developer, operator and investment manager of first-class real estate in 30 key markets across the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America. We develop, build and manage premier office, residential and retail spaces for industry-leading tenants, as well as state-of-the-art life science centers through our Breakthrough Properties venture. With global vision, on-the-ground expertise and a personalized approach, we are unparalleled in our ability to foster innovation, quickly adapt to global and local trends and proactively anticipate our customers’ evolving needs. By focusing on health and wellness, enlightened placemaking and customer-focused initiatives such as our tenant amenities platform, ZO., and our flexible space and co-working brand, Studio, we tend not just to our physical buildings, but to the people who inhabit them on a daily basis. Since our inception in 1978, Tishman Speyer has acquired, developed, and operated 484 properties, totaling 219 million square feet, with a combined value of over $121 billion (U.S.). Our current portfolio includes such iconic assets as Rockefeller Center in New York City, The Springs in Shanghai, TaunusTurm in Frankfurt and the Mission Rock neighborhood currently being realized in San Francisco.
ART PRODUCTION FUND is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to commissioning and producing ambitious public art projects, reaching new audiences and expanding awareness through contemporary art. Past projects include: Elmgreen & Dragset,“Prada Marfa,” Valentine, TX, Ugo Rondinone, “Seven Magic Mountains,” Las Vegas, Jeff Koons, “Seated Ballerina,” Rockefeller Plaza, NYC, Zoe Buckman, “CHAMP,” LA; Raul de Nieves “When I Look In To Your Eyes I See the Sun,” Miami; Nancy Baker Cahill “Liberty Bell”, multiple cities; Sanford Biggers “Oracle”, Rockefeller Center, NY; Lucy Sparrow “Tampa Fresh Foods”, Tampa, FL. Derrick Adams “Funtime Unicorns”, Rockefeller Center, NY.
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