Monday, October 5, 2015

Nominate a Winter Village All-Star

This season, Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is celebrating young New Yorkers who give back to their communities. We’ll be choosing 10 Winter Village All Stars who will be honored on opening day at a ribbon cutting ceremony.

All Stars must be residents of New York City from the ages of 7 to 13. If you would like to nominate a young New Yorker, please send an email to during the entry period, October 5, 2015 to October 19, 2015 and a submission form will be sent to you.

Nominees must be available to participate in the opening ceremony at Bryant Park on Friday, October 30, 2015 from no earlier than 5:00pm to any later than 7:00pm.

Bank of America Winter Village opens on Friday, October 30.
Photo: Colin Miller.

Click here for contest rules.

Click here for FAQs.

Bank of America Winter Village All Stars
Opening Ceremony
October 30
Details TBA

Reflections From a Former Bryant Park Games Host

Michael Sampson started his career at Bryant Park as a Games Host in the summer 2014. He has since joined our staff full-time as an Operations Data Analyst. With just one month left in the Summer 2015 Games Season, Michael shares some of his memories from last summer.   

“How much does it cost to play?”
“We can just take the games?”

This was a typical sequence of questions posed to me when I was a Games Host last summer. My response was always the same, “It is free to play. If you see a game you like, just sit at a table and play.”

These questions had an incredulous undertone that seemed to say, “This seems too good to be true. What’s the catch?” I felt proud to be a part of something that had no catch, that provided people with a comfortable place to sit, play games, and enjoy each other’s company with no expectation of anything in return. But in fact, the visitors did give something in return: rewarding companionship.

This archive photo shows Michael hard at work at the Games area.

There was Sam, the Boggler. Sam had long gray hair, wore purple-tinted sunglasses, and was a free-theater buff. Walking through the park on her way to a show, Sam stopped by the Games Cart out of curiosity. She asked about how the area worked, if we had events, etc. Finally she asked if I had a favorite game. Easy: “Scrabble.” That piqued her interest. She liked Boggle and asked if I wanted to play. As much as I didn’t want to admit it since I was the Game Host, I didn’t know how to play Boggle. “Well, I’ll teach you,” she said. From that point on, Sam and I played Boggle on a near weekly basis. She was very good and I was…improving. We developed our own set of unspoken norms and etiquette the more we played. One person shakes, the other starts the timer. Person with the shorter list reads first. Our game sessions lasted for as much time she had before a show started, which could be anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour. As summer rolled on I looked forward to Sam’s visits to the Games Area and the companionship they would bring. She made me feel connected to the people in Games Area.

Then there were Niko and Gino. Old friends, the two had a competitive but friendly relationship. They came to the Games Area, found a checkers board and got down to business. They were animated, lively, and attention grabbing. I had to watch. I needed to know who would win this game, who might win the next. They were voracious in their games appetite, and quickly expanded from checkers. Once one game had been played enough, the next one was grabbed off the cart. Eventually, the pair stood near the cart searching but not choosing. I had just the game they needed: Pentago, a Swedish five-in-a-row game with a twist. It was simple to learn yet challenging to master. They loved it. But they needed to learn the rules together. So I taught them. And they folded me into their rivalry. Any night they showed up, they grabbed Pentago, turned to me, and gestured for me to have a seat at their table. It was a gesture of inclusion. I wasn’t just an employee in a park. I was a rival, a friend.

I suspect that each Games Host met their “Sam” or their “Niko and Gino” this past summer. They could add more stories to this account supporting what is likely a little known fact about being a Games Host in Bryant Park: we enjoy the company.

Bryant Park Games
Through October
Daily, 11am - 6pm

Friday, October 2, 2015

Delightful Illustration from a Bryant Park Fan

Occasionally, we'll receive fan art in the Bryant Park e-mail inbox. The piece below was sent by a Bryant Park fan who happens to be a trained illustrator, named Sydney Newman. We share her piece and excerpts from her lovely note, below.

From Sydney's e-mail:

My name is Sydney Newman. I'm an illustrator living in New York. Bryant Park is one of my favorite parts of the city because, despite the fact that it is right in the middle of everything, it is such a calm and relaxing place that all kinds of people go to to take a break from their daily, hectic lives.

About a year ago, in my final year as an illustration student at School of Visual Arts, I decided to do a piece inspired by Bryant Park. I walked around and sat in the park, and took notes and sketched what I saw. I then created a poster, completely inspired by Bryant Park and the different people who go there to relax.

Thank you for sharing your lovely illustration, Sydney!

If you'd like to send your own fan art, questions, comments, or just a friendly greeting to the park, feel free to contact us at

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bryant Park-Designed Benches Provide 1,500 Seats around NYC

On September 23, CityBench number 1,500 was installed near a middle school in the Bronx. How is this piece of furniture connected to Bryant Park?

The CityBench was designed in 2011 by Bryant Park's Vice President of Design, Ignacio Ciocchini, as part of a contest sponsored by the City to create the next great public seating. Ciocchini's design won the competition, and his bench has been adapted by NYC as its standard bench. NYC residents bring the benches to their neighborhoods by applying for one, free of charge, from the NYC Department of Transportation. CityBench targets neighborhoods and commercial corridors that do not have enough places to sit.

We're sure to see the number of benches rise well above 1,500, as the Federal Transit Authority recnetly announced that the CityBench program has been awarded an additional $1.5 million.

More from Streetsblog:
“New York’s CityBench program is a welcome reprieve for many who pound the pavement every day,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The additional funding for this program will benefit many, especially those in my district of East Harlem, which has a prominent and growing senior population.”

Ciocchini, third from the right, cuts the ribbon on the city's 1,500th CityBench.
Photo from Streetsblog

Congratulations to Ciocchini on his design success! 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Say Goodbye to the Lawn

It's that time of year, when our programming has largely ended for the summer season. The park is in a period of transition, as jackets and hats reappear to guard their wearers against the chill of fall. We loved Summer 2015, but it is time to bid the wonderful season goodbye.

As such, the final day to enjoy the lawn is Sunday, October 11. After that date the lawn will be removed, the dirt leveled and smoothed, and construction for Bank of America Winter Village will begin. You can watch the entire wonderland being built from the ground up, all 128 Holiday Shops, the NHL-sized ice skating rink, and two-story restaurant Celsius.

Stay tuned here for the announcement of Winter Village opening day and events!

Goodbye, lawn! We'll miss you, but not for lawng.

Bank of America Winter Village

Monday, September 28, 2015

Reading Room Cliffs Notes: Week of September 28

Reading Room Cliffs Notes is the essential guide to what's going on in the Reading Room for the upcoming week. "Flashback" captures a highlight from last week, while "Foreshadowing" lists the upcoming week's events. Make a visit to the Bryant Park Reading Room presented by HSBC a plot point in your week!  

Flashback to the Author and NBA Superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Photo Credit: Angelito Jusay Photography.
Last week the Reading Room scored big with basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. While Abdul- Jabbar is most known for being the NBA's all time leading point scorer, he is also a noted author of several children's books, non-fiction books and two autobiographies. Adding to his list of accomplishments, he is now a best selling novelist with his latest book, Mycroft Holmes.

If you haven't stopped by for any events this summer, there is one more chance next week for our last Reading Room program in the 2015 series. Be sure to join us at 7:00pm for a night of poetry with the renowned Canadian poet Anne Carson.

Foreshadowing for the Week of September 28

7:00pm: Word for Word Poetry
Featuring the Poet:
Anne Carson
A Bryant Park Reading Room Production

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Preparations on Square Dance Eve

As we count down to Square Dance (which starts tomorrow!), preparations for a weekend of do-si-dos and mechanical bulls are ramping up. Take a look behind the scenes at what we're doing to prepare for the big hootenanny.

As a reminder, we'll have 3 days of Square Dancing to live music (Friday and Saturday, 6-9pm, and Sunday, 1-4pm), with food and drink available for purchase by Hester Street Fair vendors, a free mechanical bull, and chances to win great raffle prizes, including a pair of round-trip Southwest Airlines® tickets, swag from the Bryant Park Shop, and treats from our Bryant Park food vendors (Breads Bakery, Wafels & Dinges, COFFEED, and the Bryant Park Grill).

Tons of mums have arrived to lend a fall feeling to Square Dance and add a pop of color. 

We're gathering the photo booth props that have been arriving in our office for the past several weeks. Don't forget to use our hashtag #BPSquareDance when snapping pics at the photo booth! 

The signs are staged to be brought down to the park tomorrow. We'll also have brochures onsite with maps of all activity zones, so you can make a beeline for your favorite element.

Our events staff is pinning Square Dance 2015 buttons on over 3,000 hats. The office smells like hay!
We're so excited for this signature fall event and hope you'll join us!

Bryant Park Square Dance
Friday and Saturday, 6-9pm
Sunday, 1-4pm

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Painters in Residence Look Back - Susan Weintraub

Three Painters in Residence  have used Bryant Park as inspiration so far this year: John Catania (August 3rd-14th), Susan Weintraub (August 17th-28th), and David Lee (September 1st-11th).   We spoke to John last week about his time in the park, and this week we caught up with Susan Weintraub.

Susan hard at work on her painting of William Cullen Bryant. Photo by Angelito Jusay.

How did you choose your subjects? I was drawn to parts of the park where people could get away from everything and be alone. There was this garden where I saw a couple, and they seemed to be in pretty deep conversation. Or some people-- a couple of women, sitting around a table, early in the day--maybe before they started their day at work. I was very taken with those spaces.

I did want to do the fountain. It had been fairly blocked from view because of the movie screen, so I kind of said, I don't think I'm going to try to get around that, there's plenty of other things to do, I'll see what happens. So the next to last day I was there, trying to decide what to paint, I was going to do this skyscraper over the lawn. They had started to take down a lot of the screen, and you had a fairly good view of the fountain at that point. And just as I was trying to decide what to paint, the fountain came on! All of a sudden there was water, and it was beautiful, and I think-- this is a sign! So that was why I ended up doing that on the last day.  It's always a day to day decision based on the lighting, the weather, the shadows, so it's whatever looks the most appealing at that moment.

Susan's fortuitous fountain picture, in the flesh!  

How does painting in a studio compare to painting outdoors?
I started out as a plein air painter. I've always been a plein air painter until very recently. I just like the atmosphere when you're outside. One of the advantages I think of working outside is it's not just what you see. All of your senses get stimulated. There's sounds, and there's the temperature of the air, and there are smells. There are a lot of things. And I'm not a particularly good photographer, so getting a good photograph as a reference is one of the difficult parts for me. The advantages of working in a studio, and working from a photograph or still-life setup, is that it doesn't change. It doesn't move, the light doesn't change, the direction of the shadows doesn't change. If you have a model, she's going to sit there as long as you tell her to. Plein air, everything's changing and busy and moving. So you have more luxury of time working in a studio. You can really take your time and study the reference and make changes as you see fit, whereas outside you've got to make things very fast and work very fast and very focused, as one of my teachers used to say. It does have all that extra stimulation which makes it very exciting.

Susan works in watercolors, using many different brush widths to bring color to the canvas. 
Photo by Angelito Jusay.

Any particularly interesting interactions with patrons in the park?
I did enjoy the interaction of visitors for the most part. It's great when people come over and tell you how much they like the painting - it's always a good feeling. And there was one particular person who, when he walked by, said that it was just how he thought of what I had painted. I think it was the painting I did of the Reading Room. He said, "that's exactly how I think of the park. It's just how it looks to me in my mind." So that was a great compliment, and it made me feel good that I had captured some essence of the place for him. That was probably my most memorable interaction.

Susan enjoyed engaging with the public during her time in the park. Photo by Angelito Jusay.
If you missed the first three painters, you still have a chance to watch Brad Marshall at work from September 14th-25th.

Susan Weintraub earned an MFA at Brooklyn College and taught art in city schools for 25 years. For the past 11 years, she has studied watercolor at the Art Students League, where for each of the past four years, she has received the League’s ‘Red Dot,’ an award given to the best individual work in each class. In 2014, she became a signature member of the North East Watercolor Association. Her work has been exhibited at the Salmagundi Club, the National Arts Club, the Kent Art Association, and the Old Lyme Art Association. In 2012, the Arts Student League purchased one of her works for display in its permanent collection, joining fellow ASL alumni Winslow Homer and Georgia O’Keefe.