Artists explore the ‘Park of Dreams’ in new installation at Grand Army Plaza

park of dreams at prospect park arch
“Park of Dreams,” a new public art installation, is now on view at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch at Grand Army Plaza.
Photo courtesy of Prospect Park Alliance

The scaffolding surrounding the under-renovation Soldiers’ and Sailor’s Arch at Grand Army Plaza is being put to good use as a public art installation, thanks to the Prospect Park Alliance and Art For Change.

“Park of Dreams,” on view through this spring, wraps around the base of the arch, filled with paintings and artwork inspired by Prospect Park and all it offers to Brooklynites. The works – created by contemporary artists including Marcus Brutus, Maria Calandra, Alyssa Klauer, and John Key — pay homage to the “inspiration, rejuvenation, and reflection” creatives find in Brooklyn’s Backyard. 

The project is one of Art for Change’s “most exciting projects to date,” said founder Jeanne Masel in a statement. 

grand army plaza
The Soldiers and Sailors Arch at Grand Army Plaza. File photo by Stefano Giovannini

“Parks are a crucial part of any community and Prospect Park in particular holds a special place in my heart as a Brooklynite,” Masel said. “Parks not only connect city dwellers to nature and offer a respite from the hustle and bustle, they support an incredible ecosystem of flora and fauna … Curating and producing this project enables us to leverage our deep relationships with artists and, in turn, show our respect for a park that is both a vital aspect of the Brooklyn community and an important ecosystem in itself.”

The pieces that make up “Park of Dreams” explore the park literally and in a more metaphorical way — Kelly Beeman’s work “Park Bench” shows a woman sitting serenely on a winding pathway in a lush green space, while Jules de Balincourt’s “Are You An Insider or Outsider,” depicts a sharp city skyline in the background of a calm park — and the “delicate relationship between urban and rural,” as Balincourt said. 

“The beloved Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch at Grand Army Plaza is a Brooklyn icon and its plaza is an important space for community dialogue and gathering,” said Prospect Park Alliance presient Morgan Monaco. “Art and creative expression is part of what makes Prospect Park so special, and we are honored to partner with Art For Change to present a new generation of artists in Brooklyn’s premier civic space while restoration is underway.”

Park of Dreams was funded by a $25,000 grant from Assembly Member Brian Cunningham, with additional funds from Council Member Crystal Hudson. Limited-edition prints of each work in Park of Dreams are available for sale online, and 5% of the purchase price will be donated to the Alliance — while 50% of net proceeds from each sale go to the artist directly, according to the Art for Change website. 

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“Park of Dreams” celebrates all the park has to offer to Brooklynites. File photo courtesy of the Prospect Park Alliance

“The restoration of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch at Grand Army Plaza spotlights the majesty of Prospect Park, enabling all visitors to be in touch with nature and take in the art that permeates these vital public spaces,” Cunningham said in a statement. “I am proud to allocate $25,000 to Prospect Park Alliance’s Park Of Dreams exhibit, which showcases Grand Army Plaza’s revival, highlighting some of New York’s most talented, local artists that inspire creativity among the thousands of visitors who pass by each week.”

The restoration of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch — part of an $8.9 million restoration of Grand Army Plaza — began last spring. Crews will clean the more than 130-year-old arch, which was dedicated as a memorial to Union soldiers who died in the Civil War, replace its roof, repair interior elements, and install new, more energy efficient lights around its exterior.