City Pulse

By Lili Eros-Sarnyai

For those looking to discover their inner artiste, a new public art exhibition right in the heart of the Big Apple guarantees not one, but 300 smiles. European artist Agnes Winter’s first US exhibit promises to be a truly magnificent, inspirational and uplifting homage not only to our great city but also to that too-often neglected idea: the joy of living. So if you’re feeling somewhat doubtful about the Zen of Manhattan, or if you seem unable to find that elusive “happy place” within yourself, no matter how many ’10 Easy Steps to a Happier You’ books you read, then don’t miss what promises to be one of the highlights of the cultural calendar for those with a fashionable savoir-vivre.


Monument to Smile will take the form of a large-scale projection of photographs of smiling New Yorkers, all of whom the artist randomly stopped in the street and asked to smile specifically for the camera, regardless of their original mood or expression. (A quick word of advice – this type of collaboration with the public is inadvisable unless you are either (a) an authentic, successful artist or (b) prepared to deal with the remarkably colorful characters who roam our streets). The cascade of portraits will be projected 50 stories high onto the facade of 30 Rockefeller Plaza every night from 8pm until midnight, beginning May 31st and running until June 9th, transforming this New York City landmark into a colorful montage of hope and happiness.

Still not convinced that braving the hordes of art-starved tourists is worth it? Then consider the fact that this public art exhibit is sponsored by Cartier…mmm…pictures of gleaming luxury fill your mind, right? Now hold those images, and remember that it’s all in a good cause. Yes, that’s right. This is no mere celebration of joy and vitality; it also reflects Cartier’s philanthropic aims, doubling as a promotion for its second annual “Love-Day” celebration on June 8th. On this date, 10% of all sales of its LOVE bracelets will go to charitable organizations, each one supported by a prominent celebrity – we hear Julianne Moore and Faith Hill are involved. So this is art with a message, a purpose and a heart. What more could you possibly ask for?

So no more excuses, ladies. Make your well-heeled way to 30 Rock, and absorb some positive vibes (for free!). After all, the artist was inspired by the diversity of this great metropolis, by the feelings of hope, joy and optimism that filled her on every visit, thanks in no small part to the fabulousness of us New Yorkers. Let’s live up to that reputation by going out and supporting what can only be another reason to smile.

What: Monument to Smile, a Public Art Projection presented by Cartier
When: Thursday May 31- Saturday June 9 8 p.m. – midnight
Where: Rockefeller Center Plaza, 49th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue

Originally published May 2007
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