Wreath Interpretations: A Look Back

Taking a break from documenting the city’s waterfront parks and hidden waterways, I would like to share an artwork that I made last year for the NYC Parks’ 35th annual Wreath Interpretations winter holiday art show. Titled NYC Parks Now and Then, my wreath depicts some of New York’s best-known parks from the oldest to the newest.

Malcolm Parkie

In a photo taken by agency photographer Malcolm Pinckney, I stand with my work which has NYC Parks’ maple leaf logo in its center. Now let’s take a closer look at its details. Click on the bold names for their histories as I take you on a citywide tour.

Downtown Parks


We begin with Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, which has numerous monuments, and I chose the 1926 Netherland Monument flagstaff. On its left and across the street is Bowling Green, which has Arturo DiModica’s Charging Bull. To its right is the triangular City Hall Park which features the 1872 Fountain by Jacob Wrey Mould.

A wreath line then separates these three early parks from the next generation. In its square shape is Tompkins Square Park with the leaves that can be found on its grounds. Above it is Union Square Park with its equestrian monument of George Washington. To its left is the rectangular map of Washington Square Park with the Washington Square Arch as its selected monument.

Olmstedian Glory


For the period when Frederick Law Olmsted was the top designer of New York City’s parks, I give Central Park three monuments: the Bethesda Fountain, the Egyptian Obelisk, and its boundary wall. To its right is the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch on the edge of Prospect Park, which is also at the western end of Eastern Parkway.

The Bronx is represented with Astor Court at Bronx Zoo, Van Cortlandt Park with its historic mansion. Staten Island is represented with Clove Lakes Park and its Stone House restaurant on an island in a lake inside an island borough; and Silver Lake Park with its golf course.

My hometown borough tops the wreath with the Unisphere flanked the official symbols of Queens: the Dutch tulip and the English rose symbolizing its two colonial masters.

Twentieth Century Parks


The wreath becomes more crowded in its 20th century section. We see Flushing Meadows-Corona Park with its two lakes and dragon boats. Above it is Astoria Park with its pool and two bridges.

For Manhattan I have Fort Tryon Park with its Cloisters museum and Little Red Lighthouse. Next to the famous beacon is Keith Haring’s Crack is Wack handball court mural. Below it is Septuagesimo Uno, a pocket park on the Upper West Side. The final two items in this section are a map of Marine Park and the Carousel For All Children from Willowbrook Park.

Modern to the Present Day


The final tow sections of the wreath are also quite packed. Governors Island is on the top left with The Hills as its featured item. Below it is Johnny Harman Triangle with its historic lamppost. Next to it is a community garden and the Fountain of the Dolphins from the South Beach of Staten Island. Below the triangle is the AIDS Memorial in Greenwich Village, the piers of Hudson River Park, and the Vessel sculpture at Hudson Yards.

The final section of the wreath has the city’s most recent parks: High Line, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Freshkills Park, Gantry Plaza State Park, Bushwick Inlet Park, Bush Terminal Park, and Barretto Point Park with its Floating Pool Lady facing the Statue of Liberty ferryboat on the opposite end of the wreath.

At the time I sought to demonstrate my knowledge of NYC Parks as I sought positions in its press, outreach, and marketing offices. Although the artwork was well received and sold, neither of these three Parks divisions hired me. Not even an interview.

I have no idea what their ideal candidate had to offer, but it clearly isn’t the wreath above.

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