City Pulse

By Katie Calautti

This past Saturday – after rolling out of bed before noon (the horror!) and helming a pilgrimage-worthy subway ride – I found myself standing in front of the Battery Maritime Building in lower Manhattan. My mission: to attend the opening ceremony of the First Annual Governors Island Art Fair, featuring more than 40 of New York’s most promising artists.

My supreme excitement at attending the visual cornucopia of paintings, sculpture, sound installations and photography was eclipsed only by my aching curiosity about Governors Island. I found it impossible to believe that I’d never even heard of it – let alone visited – after living in New York City for almost four years (me? Information superhighway of 5-borough discovery and travel, left in the dark? Uncouth!)

I was impressed before I even set foot on the island – the (free!) ferry ride offers gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty (and the island’s coast welcomes visitors with a breathtaking waterfall installation by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson – similar to those currently surrounding the Brooklyn Bridge.)

As I strolled toward the building that housed the fair, I passed lush, green parks, historic brick forts and eco-friendly bicycle rentals, electric vehicles and recycling bins. I could hardly believe that I was a mere 800 yards from Manhattan.

As if I needed any more reason to float through my idyllic state, I entered the walls of the art fair building and my jaw dropped. Each room was set up like a mini-gallery, showcasing one particular artist’s wares. Many of the open windows afforded gorgeous views of the water and adjacent Manhattan skyline. The halls were abuzz with art lovers and critics of all ages, and the parks surrounding the fair were strewn with picnicking families.

Even better – the fair, organized by a group of artists called The 4heads Collective, was created with a by-artists-for-artists mentality. The Collective’s mission is to offer each participant a chance to exhibit in his or her own room, and to afford the public an opportunity to buy pieces from some of the city’s most sought-after independent artists.

The First Annual Governors Island Art Fair is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through October 12. Admission is FREE. For more information about transportation, hours and participating artists, head to www.4heads.org and www.govisland.com.

Originally published September 2008
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