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ART IN THE PARK

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The Brooklyn Working Artists Coalition celebrates the 20th anniversary of its outdoor sculpture show at Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park on Aug. 3.

This year’s fresh-air installation features more than 30 sculptures from Brooklyn Working Artists Coalition (BWAC) members and national talent with themes ranging from the humorous to the events of Sept. 11, according to co-curator Richard Brachman.

"There is such a vast range of sculpture and philosophies of sculpture [in this year’s show]. All different varieties, shapes, mediums and styles," said Brachman. "Darrell Petit has a very interesting piece, a site-specific piece which incorporates some of the larger rocks of the park. There are three pieces that directly reference the World Trade Center buildings. ACME Jones has created a bed of flowers using found materials. Dan Bergman has a blue, inflatable sculpture and Michael Whitney has a row of stars - sitting on the ground - made from ladders."

Brachman, a DUMBO resident and sculptor, said that BWAC has changed over time, but so has the park that is the backdrop for its annual show.

"The journey to create the Brooklyn Bridge Park has been a long one, and all along, Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park has been the example of what Brooklyn’s river edge could become. So, too, has the BWAC Outdoor Sculpture Show been an example of how art can coexist and enrich the experience of a public park."

Brachman has been curating the outdoor sculpture show with Ursula Clark for three years.

"I’ve always been interested in the park," said Brachman. "I was always active in opposing commercial enterprise in the park and trying to keep the park a green space, something for relaxation and community use. So when BWAC asked me to help organize the show, I thought I’ve been committed to the park remaining a park, so I should put my money where my mouth is and participate in that work."

Brachman’s social consciousness permeates his work, too - quite literally.

"Mostly I was a painter, but I started doing sculpture to comment on social issues I thought were of concern to everyone. I usually put commentary on them about what I’m thinking or why I built it."

The BWAC show sculptures are situated throughout the park where viewers enjoy the natural setting as well as the artwork.

"I thought it was a really wonderful idea to have sculptures in the park and interact with it," said Brachman. "It’s a different venue from a gallery or a museum - much less inhibiting, a much more approachable way to look at art. And most of the people who go to the park feel that way. They talk to the artists while they are installing, they touch and climb on [the sculptures] and sit in the shade of them."

For 20 years, BWAC has provided an opportunity for hundreds of artists to display their works and provided food for thought for thousands of visitors. On Saturday, the tradition continues with live music from noon to 6 pm on the Little Red Hen Music Stage, hosted by Jan Bell, and the sculptors will be on hand to meet the public.

The free exhibition is on view through Sept. 2. Enter the park on Water Street at Dock Street. For more information about BWAC, call (718) 596-2507 or 802-9254.

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