New York Avenue Sculpture Project

Courtesy of Google Images

By Bella Ramon

New York Avenue is a bustling part of the District, where decorated metallic tires and other pieces of art can be seen dancing around the area. Currently, an installation of intricately decorated tires is a part of the National Museum of Women in the Art’s long-term beautification project of New York Avenue.

The area has a constant rotation of beautiful pieces by female artists that are complemented by landscaping, lighting, and interpretive signage. Established in 2010, the projects are a private-public collaboration between the museum and the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District (BID), the D.C. office of Planning, and other local agencies. The project aims to reclaim New York Avenue as a pedestrian-friendly area and strengthen its identity as a cultural district. 

Located in Herald Square at 13th Street through Mount Vernon Square at 9th Street, Betsabeé Romero, a Mexico City based artist is the current participant with her work on display.

Creating this piece specifically for New York Ave, Romero has assembled four sets of tires that are decorated and strung-up. Using a process similar to tattooing, she carves intricate patterns and designs into the giant pieces of rubber with bright metallic paint. The designs and paintings on the tires symbolize and speak to the theme of her Hispanic heritage and the story of human migration. Her work for this project is the first to incorporate interior lighting so the sculptures can be seen at night with an ethereal glow. 

This installation has been on display for all to enjoy since September of 2018. Visitors and residents of the District area will be able to appreciate the art until September 20, 2020 when another artist will be featured. Long-time residents of the city can watch as the exhibits change every one to three years. Since its opening, more than four women have had the honor of having their hard work on display in the middle of this bustling intersection and pedestrian-filled area. 

This tradition has become a local attraction during both day and night, as it is the first and only major boulevard to be decorated by outdoor sculptures. An abundance of large pieces of art can be seen from a distance, luring in many visitors to the area to learn what they are. 

To keep the area consistently beautiful and welcoming for all, the Downtown D.C. BID’s Safety/Hospitality and maintenance employees (SAMs) work year-round on landscaping and cleaning of the sculptures that are on display. This hard work and dedication is ultimately for the upkeep and beautification of the neighborhood.

The New York Avenue sculpture project is the only public art space that features changing installations by modern female artists in Washington D.C. It is their goal to not only foster a sense of pride for this vibrant community and growing area, but to also bring awareness to the numerous talented female artists from around the world. Having taken place in four phases, the project is finally finished for a multitude of art pieces to be showcased for years to come.

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