Alice Aycock’s East River Roundabout is “a theater around which New York City enacts itself. And the viewer becomes a spectator in the play of the City as well as an actor competing phenomena.”
That ‘s from the artist, and it gives us a clue about the art’s potential to charm, soothe and entertain. But for now, it’s best if you squint and don’t look too closely.
On my way to the Roosevelt Island Tram, I decided to cross over the FDR to the East River Esplanade and have closer look. I saw it from above, hundreds of times, but not close up since the park nearby opened in 2017.
Reports, like one in Municipal Arts Society’s magazine, say that Andrew Haswell Green Park is under what’s now called the Alice Aycock Pavilion.
But that’s not true.
What’s under the small park is junk, scrappy stuff, lots of it, and it undermines the art. But it is true to Aycock’s vision.
Getting To Alice Aycock’s East River Roundabout
You have two choices for getting to the Esplanade taking you to the Pavilion where Aycock’s sculpture sets the tone. By far, the best is a footbridge that crosses the six-lane FDR just south of Rockefeller University.
One reason for calling the Alice Aycock’s East River Roundabout “a gem ringed by junk” is that everything surrounding it is awful.
And while you’re wondering what the thinking was that left this mess as it is, you follow the slight jog up a ramp to the Pavilion…
Finally, the Alice Aycock Pavilion
East River Roundabout overhead, the Alice Aycock Pavilion scores with generous seating and a natural lawn. Classic New York City views stretch in every direction. Roosevelt Island appears differently than from any other angle, small and intimate, even with Cornell Tech straight across the river.
The Queensboro Bridge and Lenox Hill lift high around you.
But even so, the City’s tone deaf negligence can’t be avoided.
Graffiti Scars the Pavilion
Few things say “urban blight” as clearly as careless graffiti allowed to remain, and the Alice Aycock Pavilion doesn’t fare well. Joining the abandoned poster…
Let’s be clear. Alice Aycock’s East River Roundabout is world class art. Can’t New York City make a nicer neighborhood of it?