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Staff Picks: NYC art we heart

The American Merchant Marine Memorial

The American Merchant Marine Memorial Photo Credit: The American Merchant Marine Memorial (photo by Wally Gobetz)

Art is all around us in this city, but we asked amNewYork staffers to do the impossible and name their favorite pieces. Here’s what we like:

‘Joan of Arc’
Jules Bastien-Lepage (1879), Metropolitan Museum of Art
This painting looms large in the second-floor hallway of the Met. I always have to visit it whenever I’m at the museum. I love the romantic country setting, and it’s just breathtaking to see the mythical event of Joan’s visitation rendered with such realism. According to a museum spokesperson, this work is a favorite of Patti Smith’s as well.
(Emily Hulme)

The American Merchant Marine Memorial
Marisol Escobar (1991), in Battery Park
What’s totally amazing is how Marisol makes use of the tides to tell her grim, visual story. At low tide, the torso and head of the drowning merchant marine, who is reaching up to be pulled to safety, is visible, giving the viewer hope. At high tide, all that is visible is his hand, reaching toward the hand of another merchant marine desperate to save him.
(Sheila Anne Feeney)

‘The Virgin Mother’
Damien Hirst (2005), in front of the Lever House at 53rd Street and Park Avenue
I think this is an amazing piece that you might not even notice as you walk by on the sidewalk. But take a small detour around just one column and BAM! There it is — a 35-foot naked pregnant woman whose skin has been peeled away in layers to show muscle, organs, skeleton and unborn baby. It is insanely bizarre, even creepy — but then again, so beautiful. I like to stand there and think about all the drawings and mini-models and casts that it took to put this together.
(Christopher Sabatini)

The Blue Whale
American Museum of Natural History
One of my favorite things to do is to lay flat in the center of the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the Museum of Natural History. It’s home to a 94-foot-long model of a blue whale, which is exquisitely suspended from the ceiling and floats beautifully in the center of the room. While lying on your back and looking up at the famed blue whale, you can imagine you are on the sea floor, holding your breath and quietly awaiting the slow, methodical passage of the whale through the building.
(RJ Mickelson)

‘Oculus’
by Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel (1998), in the Chambers Street/World Trade Center subway station
I’ve always been fascinated by “Oculus,” a series of hundreds of mosiac eyes scattered throughout the Chamber Street subway station. The eyes — modeled after those of real New Yorkers — seem to follow you as you walk. When I was in high school, I got my photo taken for the project, but I still don’t know if I made it in.
(Perrie Samotin)

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