Arsenal Gallery in Central Park

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By Katherine Chunchi

An art exhibition at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park is bringing the Great Outdoors to life. Thirty-three illustrations of nature and urban space show recreational and historical settings from the golden age of illustration.

Exhibit curator, Jennifer Lantzas, 32, said the museum of American Illustration wanted to capture the essence of nature.

“We thought of all the ways of putting this gallery together and we figured, why not make it look like an outdoor scene,” Lantzas said. “We wanted people to embrace the natural environment in the gallery rather than outside in the streets or parks.”

The exhibit is nothing like a white cube gallery space but rather it resembles a park. The benches, the tables, and the artwork that hang on the white walls create a soothing and peaceful environment. Light streams through two 20-foot windows in the gallery.

“It’s like a little comfort zone for me,” said Evelyn Panora, 21,  a psychology major at Montclair University. “You’re literally in a park except you are more at ease and surrounded by art, art that you can quietly contemplate.”

Visitors enjoyed chats on the benches and walked around. Some took photographs, notes, or observed the art. Others enjoyed snacks and beverages at a room nearby, where they chatted about the artists.

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Among the artistic illustrators are: E. N. Blue, Haddon Hubbard Sundblom, Meg Wholberg, Paul Cox, and others. Their works depict a great variety of outdoor life including sports like horseback riding, biking, and canoeing.

Most of the art has been published in books, magazines, and advertisements from the Golden Age of Illustration.

“I work just a few blocks away from here and I come by just to see Flagg’s work,” said a fan of artist, James Montgomery Flagg. “Weird, I know. He was such a great artist though and was actually one of the greats from the Golden Age.”

Curator Lantzas said this exhibition encourages people to explore past and current themes of nature from artists like James Spanfeller to Robbert Morris Cunningham.

“We have about six exhibitions each year,” said Lantzas. “We usually welcome most proposals for solo or group exhibitions, but this year the artworks are from the [Museum of American Illustration].”

The Arsenal Gallery is opened from 9:00a.m.-5:00 p.m until April 21. Lantza welcomes artists who wish to submit a proposal for an exhibition later this year. All information regarding applications can be accessed at the Museum of American Illustration or online at the New York Parks website.

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