Is Geo Art?

Let’s discuss

M. M. De Voe
Counter Arts
Published in
6 min readFeb 12, 2023

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This absolutely magical installation from Fall 2022 is called “13 moons” by Jaime Miranda-Bambarén — all of the photographs in this piece were taken by the author

Let’s start with a revelation that will surprise no one who knows me: I am an avid fan of public art. I live in Lower Manhattan and for decades, the fact that art appears on my walk to the grocery store, to the library, and to drop off or pick up my kids from various activities has justified the expense of so tiny a home. Perhaps my body was cramped within these walls, but my mind was free to roam.

I have long thought that the red cube on Liberty and Broadway was close to the epitome of a public art sculpture. It is whimsical without being obvious. It stands out as a clearly intentional sculpture. It is both memorable and abstract. People stand in front of it and take photos and laugh and discuss it. This is art. The Red Cube has a baffling hole in the middle (telescope? vacuum? existential commentary?) but in general it is an object that is clearly intended to evoke responses from passers-by.

And so it has — for half a century. The Red Cube was designed by Isamu Noguchi and installed in 1968. For fifty-four years, tourists and locals have noticed it, photographed it and wondered at how it balances. When it was installed, the artist said it was intended to pull the eye upward. And it does. This art stands the test of time.

Did you even SEE the thing in the background? It looks like someone scooped flavorless jello out of the hole of the cube and left it in a pile on the cement nearby.

Let’s contrast The Red Cube to the newest piece of public art in Lower Manhattan. Clearly they are meant to be compared, given they share the same plaza. Oh, did you not notice the less-than symmetrical bubble on the sidewalk near the Red Cube? Did you think it was just construction? So did everyone. That is why it is completely surrounded on all sides by signage — to inform you that this, dear observer, is PUBLIC ART.

They have to put up signs because people walking by only see the black pieces of technology (lights, mostly but also wires) that are scattered all over the inside of the thread-and-metal frame. They step over the protective wire covers and then look down to see what is being plugged in:

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M. M. De Voe
Counter Arts

Fictionista, collector of obscure awards, admirer of optimists in the face of dread. Author of 2 books that are polar opposites and yet the same. mmdevoe.com