Socrates Sculpture Park


Socrates Sculpture Park, located along the East River in the New York City borough of Queens, is a cross between a public park and an outdoor art exhibition space. The park is situated in Long Island City, but it isn’t far from the Welling Court street murals in Astoria. Its location along the river makes it a little cold in the winter, but it’s still worth seeing its diverse, multimedia art installations even if you have to bundle up. Currently, the park features the 2015 Emerging Artist Fellowship Exhibition, which continues until March 13, 2016.

Here are a few examples of the art you will see when you visit the park. (If you click the artists’ names, you will go to the full description of each piece on the park’s website.)

First, here is Kenneth Armstead’s Master Work: Astoria Houses, Building 24, 2015. It is constructed of stainless steel, tar, and feathers, and was the largest single sculpture I saw at the park during my visit.


This next piece, by José Carlos Casado, is titled Trade, 2015.


This next work, by artist Carla Edwards, is titled Gain and Cost, 2015.


These sculptures by Charlotte Hyzy are collectively titled Dessert Babes: Queer Fat Decadence, 2015.


There’s also Tactile Formation, 2015, by Melanie McLain.


This work is Kirsten Nelson’s Displaced Corner, 2015.


I loved these painted bronze sculptures by artist John Ahearn, created in 1994. In order presented here, they are titled Cory, Daleesha, and Raymond and Toby.




And finally, here is the view from the park across the East River towards Manhattan (albeit a bit grey on the day of my visit). This view is of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and there aren’t really any noteworthy buildings in this area. When the weather is good, the path along the edge of the river is nice though.


Intrigued by what you see here? These photos show only part of the works on exhibition at the Socrates Sculpture Park at this time – you should visit to see the full park. But notice the thin grass in places. If it has rained or snowed recently, you will want to wear waterproof shoes, as the ground can get a little muddy. The grass is much more plush in the warmer months, and the park has lovely flowers in season.

To get to the park by public transportation, you can take the N or Q trains (Q only running Monday through Friday) to the Broadway station, and then walk 8 blocks west on Broadway until you reach Vernon Boulevard. You can also take the Q103 bus, which has stops near many of the other subway stations in Long Island City. (For specific directions, use the Trip Planner on the MTA website.)

Subway Station Art – 14th Street/8th Avenue Station

New York City is home to countless examples of great public art, with many exhibitions located in subway stations. And this art is free to view – assuming that you are traveling by subway. I’ve always enjoyed glimpses of the mosaics and sculptures scattered throughout many of the subway stations in the city, but more recently I’ve started viewing the subway stations as a destination in themselves, miniature art museums, rather than just transportation hubs. As I’ve done so, I’ve been able to learn even more about the public art offerings in New York City.


The 14th Street/8th Avenue Station is one such destination, containing a large collection of bronze sculptures by artist Tom Otterness, collectively titled “Life Underground.” Some of the sculptures are easy to find, but others require a little more effort. The more you explore the station, the more unique sculptures you will find – some in the most unexpected of places! Check high and low, behind and underneath. You’ll be rewarded for your explorations.


I found this fun sculpture underneath the stairs on the A/C/E platform. Thankfully, they can’t really saw through the pillar!


You may have heard the mythological accounts of alligators in the New York City sewers. There are several sculptures like this one, referencing that famous myth.


Here are a few more examples of the sculptures located on the A/C/E platforms.




The stairways and ramps between the mezzanine level and the L platform provide opportunities to discover additional sculptures, so make sure you explore all platforms and the mezzanine level in the station. One of my favorite pieces is this one, hanging above the ramp to the L platform. Here’s both the full view and a close-up of that sculpture.



Here are two more sculptures from the L platform, although there are still many more for you to discover if you visit!



Want to see these intriguing sculptures for yourself? You can reach the 14th Street/8th Avenue Station on the A, C, E, and L trains. Once you’re done touring the station, Chelsea Market and the High Line are close by, as well as the NYC neighborhoods of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District.