The dismay at finding my favorite ( elephant ) sculpture gone from it’s joyful pose in Union Square turned to delight when I discovered a fantastic new exhibit on the corner of Spring and La Fayette. You almost can’t believe your eyes when you first see this capped swimmer in an inner tube floating along the edge of Soho. She is so realistic. Her eyes are closed, her skin is wet and when you see her you immediately feel peaceful and refreshed. The swimmer is the creation of artist Carole Feuerman and is called ‘Survival of Serena’.
It was such a glorious day on Saturday I wanted to shoot the sculpture in full sun, but when I arrived I found a small woman fastidiously cleaning in and around the fingers and face of the swimmer. Of course it could have been a solid citizen, but it was in fact Carole, alerted by a blogger’s photo that showed the swimmer had lost some of her eyelashes. As a ‘perfectionist to the point of mental illness’ Carole would have to organize epoxy and eyelashes, but in the interim she told me about her work.
Carole is famous for her super realistic sculptures of swimmers and bathers. She talks about water connecting us all and you would think to look at her work that she was a water baby herself. In fact she doesn’t even swim!
NYC is well known for the outstanding artworks that appear all over the city at the beginning of summer and I had always thought the seasonal open air gallery would be payday for exhibited artists. But in fact, the story is quite different. Artists do not submit work, they are chosen by the city’s curator, and depending on the amount of pieces, they can nominate an area for their work. Carole was asked to exhibit her most well known piece, ( it was the darling of the Venice biennale ) and she chose Petrosino square. She paid for the installation of the work, as well as insurance in case the sidewalk is damaged ( about $20,000 all up ). There is no payment made to the artist. I found this quite amazing and have a new appreciation for the art – and the artists, who contribute to the gallery I live in. Thank you Carole.
The upshot for the artist is of course the publicity, and ‘Survival of Serena’ will be part of an exhibition at the Jim Kempner Gallery in October. The asking price is $400,000 and when I asked if selling it would mean a move to the upper east side and retirement she laughed. At one time she thought a sale would enable the doing up of her kitchen ( and her family have a waiting list of their own requests), but with eight or nine other projects on the go, and all of them costing anywhere between $100 – $150,000 to produce, selling Serena will simply make the next swimmer possible. Carole would love to see her in a community setting and would willing negotiate a good price to see many people being able to enjoy her art. What do you think? Bondi Beach? Serena would look completely at home with the icebergs……