Studio in the Park
Jul 30 2015
Much of Matthew Jensen’s artistic practice is solitary, but he was kind enough to invite me to follow him on one of his fourteen walks and "spy on him” for the Queens Museum blog (his words).
So, on Monday, I followed Matt from the Tramway Plaza in Manhattan to the mobile studio in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. It was one of those gorgeous New York July days—90 degrees with 90% humidity—and after a long Subway ride from Brooklyn to 59th St., we set off in the direction of the Queensboro Bridge.
Matt suggested that this journey would be "one of the most unforgiving walks” included in his project. It was indeed a sunny and sweaty journey, but I learned a lot of interesting tidbits from Matt about his former life as a campaign organizer, his discoveries from past walks (the dust from crosswalk paint creates rainbows along curbsides), his snack habits (his backpack, that day, contained fig bars, quenepas, and mouse melons), and his creative process. Matt trained as a photographer, but the production of images is only a fraction of his work. "I play up the process and play down the final image,” he says, highlighting the centrality of landscape exploration to his approach to art-making.
The journey took us through many neighborhoods: the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island (in aerial view), Long Island City, Woodside, Jackson Heights, and Elmhurst. Some stretches of land were dominated by car dealerships, others by Southeast Asian restaurants. We passed by a Gujarati Hindu temple with a bright orange façade and a small graveyard on Corona Avenue with weathered headstones dating back to the early 1800s. We found ourselves inside the Terrace on the Park, originally built as a heliport for the 1965 World’s Fair. We even saw Longhorn cattle near the Fantasy Forest Amusement Park.
And home at last.
We collected a few objects—metal bristles shed by street sweepers, an unidentified ticket, an unclassifiable green plastic jewel—though Matt asserts that he finds more exciting and surprising things in less trafficked areas, where old relics are less likely to be cleaned up by municipal workers. You can check out these objects, and many more, during open studio hours on Saturday. I will be there from 2-4pm, collecting your ideas about the objects’ lives and origins. Hope to see you there!
In the meantime: see Matt walk.