Leslie Fry's Dream Commission at the Freehand Hotel, NYC
Leslie Fry, whose work is featured in CAST, was commissioned to create artwork for the newly opened and renovated Freehand Hotel in New York City. Once known as the George Washington Hotel, it was built in 1929 and is located at 23 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. The hotel was once the home of many artists, writers, and musicians, and served as a dormitory for students who attended the School of Visual Arts.
This would be a dream commission for many artists, but especially for someone like Leslie Fry. This historic hotel is a beautiful setting and the sculptures are located in eight wall niches framed in the original architectural plaster detailing. These ornamental niches are perfect for Fry's work - they relate visually to Fry's rich visual style and they make her pieces a clear focal point in the space. The sculptures are scaled to fit the niche dimensions of 53” x 18” x 10.5”.
Each sculpture references a New York City architectural icon, including the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Flatiron Building, the Guggenheim Museum, and the hotel building itself.
While some of these pieces use direct sculpting in plaster, casting is one of Leslie Fry's primary processes. Her use of moldmaking and her ability to seamlessly join cast parts with sculpted parts is one of the most impressive aspects of her work from a technical standpoint.
Fry outlines and illustrates her process on her blog - it's definitely worth checking out to see drawings, modeling, and the final pieces. Here's a small sampling.
Leslie Fry’s sculptures and works on paper have been exhibited in museums and galleries across the globe including Artists Space in New York; Kunsthaus in Hamburg; Hangaram Art Museum in Seoul; Windspiel Galerie in Vienna; Couvent des Cordeliers in Paris; deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum near Boston; and Centre des Arts Visuels in Montreal. Her public art projects have been commissioned by Wave Hill in New York City; International Sculpture Festa, Seoul; Tufts University, Boston; Kohler Arts Center, Wisconsin; Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montreal; Housing Vermont and Burlington City Arts, Vermont; and Pinellas County Cultural Affairs, Tampa Public Art Program, and Broward Public Art Program in Florida. She earned her M.F.A. in 1993 at Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, and lives in Winooski, Vermont.
Caption for title image: Freehand (detail), 2018. Reinforced plaster with ink, and steel, 52” x 17” x 10”, Freehand Hotel, New York, NY, Freehand/Bard Art Commission. Photo by Jeanette May, courtesy of the artist.