Freshkills Park Blog

Danehy Park, Cambridge MA

Photo by RajRem via flickr.

Mayor Thomas W. Danehy Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts is a 50-acre site with a similar history to the Freshkills Park site: clay deposits onsite attracted brick manufacturing uses in the 19th century; wet, low ground led to landfilling operations in the mid-20th century; local activism and political pressure led to late 20-th century landfill closure and, ultimately, to park construction.

Danehy’s landfill operations ceased in the 1970s, after which, the site was used as a staging area for subway line extension by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) through the 1980s.  It was developed as parkland and opened to the public in 1990.  Today, it is the largest park in the City of Cambridge and hosts softball fields, soccer fields, multi-use paths, two acres of thriving wetland habitat and public art installations by Mierle Laderman Ukeles (who is also creating public artwork for Freshkills Park).  Unlike the Freshkills Park site, there is no landfill gas collection system at Danehy Park, though extensive geotechincal engineering has been performed to ensure public safety.  Landfill gas emissions and settlement continue to be monitored onsite.  The City of Cambridge has issued a nicely-illustrated brochure about the site’s history and systems.

March 2, 2010 Posted by | FKP | , , | Leave a comment

Artists engaging the environment, at Wave Hill

Fresh Kills Landfill Percent for Art artist Mierle Ukeles will be moderating a panel discussion on “engaging the environment” through artistic practice, with Winter Workspace Artists Susan Benarcik, Eve Mosher and Anne Katrin Spiess, Sunday at Wave Hill in the Bronx.  Winter Workspace, which started in January and runs through March 21st, has allowed seven visual artists to develop new work at Wave Hill, making use of the site’s garden and woodland while reflecting on the Hudson River.

Sunday, March 7th, 2pm
Wave Hill House
West 249th St. and Independence Ave., Bronx
Reservations are recommended through the website

or by calling 718.549.3200 x 305.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | FKP | , , , | Leave a comment

Last Tuesday’s panel of public artists

art panel

We had a great time co-hosting Tuesday night’s panel discussion on public art with the Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI).  All of the panelists make exciting and engaging work, and they had a lot to say about the ways in which financing, permissions and public interaction have played into their work (or the work they curate).  Some highlights (from panelists pictured above, from left to right):

  • Kathryne Hall detailing her effort to secure appropriate permits to exhibit her project Tubisms in Times Square, where the fact that it was an “art project” was ultimately all the police needed to know;
  • Ingrid Chu describing how artists like Pablo Helguera have used the storefront of Forever & Today to engage passers-by through projects that read more as commerce than art;
  • Christina Ray’s inspired sidenote that an unauthorized street furniture intervention attaching seating to street signs had endured since the 2004 Conflux festival for years without removal;
  • Mierle Ukeles describing her relationship with public commissioning agencies as having transitioned from something like flirtatious dating to a marriage that is productive but weighted with a sense of obligation and occasional conflicts over personal space;
  • Michael Falco’s review of photos he’d taken out on the streets and in the industrial workplaces of the city, which reminded us that the photographic work of documenting and showing the city to itself can be public artwork, too.

We’re grateful to all the panelists, to moderator Sara Reisman from Percent for Art, and to the folks who packed the back room of the Cargo Cafe to hear them all talk.  We’re looking forward to engaging more with COAHSI and with artists citywide as we continue to develop Freshkills Park’s identity as a hub for arts and culture.

June 29, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , , | 1 Comment

Recent press on upcoming Freshkills Park speakers

MLUOne of the panelists at next Tuesday evening’s panel discussion on public art, The Challenges and Channels of Public Art Production, is Mierle Ukeles, who is the Department of Sanitation’s Artist-in-Residence and contributed to the Freshkills Park master planning process as a Percent for Art artist.  As the first and premier maintenance artist working today, there’s been a lot written about Mierle’s public artwork over the years, including this most recent article in Public Art Review.  She’s also written a chapter called “Forgiveness for the Land–Public Offerings: Made by All Redeemed by All” in the recently published book Considering Forgiveness.

handelThe Christian Science Monitor also just featured Dr. Steven Handel, a pioneer in the field of urban ecology who has been involved in a number of investigations and design projects for land reclamation sites–including numerous studies on the Freshkills Park site.  Dr. Handel is the director of the Center for Urban Restoration Ecology (CURE), a joint venture between Rutgers and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  He will be this month’s speaker in our Freshkills Park Talks lecture series next Thursday evening at the Staten Island Museum, where he’ll discussing urban ecology, directions for the future and the lessons we can take from Freshkills Park.

June 19, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Upcoming Freshkills Park events

The upcoming week is a busy one for us.  Three terrific public events focused on different aspects of the Freshkills Park site: waste, art and ecology.  They’re all free, and we hope to see you at one or more of them.  An RSVP is needed for the first, but not the others.

Saturday, June 20th, 12-2:30pm @ the Freshkills Park site
Sacred Geography: How to Love a Landfill
Robin Nagle, Anthropologist-in-Residence with the New York City Department of Sanitation, suggests that Fresh Kills, both as a landfill of yesteryear and as a park of tomorrow, merits our affection despite its troubled heritage. She goes so far as to claim that Fresh Kills is sacred space, a status she believes it held even before it became the location for material from the World Trade Center. Join us as she explores these provocative ideas on the North Mound of Freshkills Park.  Space is limited.  Please RSVP to Martha at to participate.

The Challenges and Channels of Public Art Production: A Panel Discussion
Tuesday, June 23, 2009, 7-9pm @ Cargo Café
120 Bay Street, Staten Island, a short w
alk from the St. George Ferry Terminal
The Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI) and Freshkills Park present a panel discussion and dialogue about how commissioning entities, time scales, transient or permanent siting, and approvals processes moderate what public work can and should be.  Panelists are: Ingrid Chu, Director of RED-I Projects and Forever & Today, Inc.; Christina Ray, Director and Founder of Glowlab and Conflux; and New York City-based artists Michael Falco, Kathryne Hall and Mierle Laderman Ukeles, the Department of Sanitation’s Artist-in-Residence who contributed to the master plan for Freshkills Park.  Moderator: Sara Reisman, Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art Program.

Freshkills Park Talks: Urban Ecology at Fresh Kills
Thursday, June 25, 2009, 7:30-9pm @ The Staten Island Museum
75 Stuyvesant Place, a short walk from the St. George Ferry Terminal
Dr. Steven Handel, professor of ecology at Rutgers University and the Director of the Center for Urban Restoration Ecology (CURE), has been conducting research at Fresh Kills for nearly two decades. Dr. Handel will discuss his findings, what they mean for the restoration of compromised landscapes and the lessons we can learn from Fresh Kills in developing strategies for managing the ecology of our cities.

June 16, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Manifesto for Maintenance, 40 years later


Forty years have passed since Mierle Ukeles wrote her Manifesto for Maintenance Art, 1969!, which launched her trajectory as the premier maintenance artist in the world and ultimately led to her selection as the Percent for Art artist selected to contributed to the Freshkills Park master plan.  Art in America published this interview with Mierle about how she came to write the manifesto and what it means to grapple with maintenance in your artwork.  A great quote near the end:

‘That is what maintenance is, trying to listen to the hum of living. A feeling of being alive, breath to breath. The same way that the sanitation department sends out 1,600 trucks every day, it is like this repetitive thing that as much as you chafe at the boredom of the repetition is as important as the other parts. And I know that that has to be a part of culture.’

March 26, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , | Leave a comment

The Sanitation Artist

Meirle Laderman Ukeles is a Percent For Art Artist whose work will be integrated in the development of Freshkills Park. She has been the Artist-in-Residence at the NYC Department of Sanitation since 1977 and, following the ideals of her 1969 Manifesto for Maintenance Art, has executed numerous maintenance and sanitation-related artistic projects over the last 30 years.  She was an active part of the Freshkills Park planning process.

An image of Mierle Ukeles' 1993 project "Respect," a ballet of garbage collection vehicles.

An image of Mierle Ukeles' 1993 project "Respect," which included a ballet of garbage collection vehicles.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment