Four Freedoms Park Conservancy announced the winners of their second annual sketch contest, Sketch 4 Freedom last week. The contest, held during the summer, invited artists of all skill levels to visit FDR Four Freedoms State Park and create artwork inspired by the theme, “celebrating public space.”
The first place winner was illustrator, designer, and artist Richard Clements for sketch entitled Serene Space. Clements often uses the City for drawing inspiration. His intent was to capture the vibe of the park. “I wanted to capture the calm, peaceful feeling that exists at Four Freedoms Park. People look like they enjoy the surroundings with an untroubled serenity, and I wanted to somehow how try and convey that. I wanted to utilize the park’s straight lines and architecture to guide the viewer’s eye into the drawing and out onto the city landscape.”
First place sketch by Richard Clements, who won a gift card for a 6-month subscription to SketchBox, a curated monthly art supply delivered directly to your door. He also received a Four Freedoms Park swag bag, a signed copy of Freehand Drawing and Discovery: Urban Sketching and Concept Drawing for Designers, and a $300 gift certificate to Blick Art Materials.
Madeline Grimes, Four Freedoms’ Director of Strategic Partnerships & Communications, explained that the judges, who she described as “a terrific panel of artists and architects,” rated each sketch based upon interpretation and clarity of the theme, creativity and originality of the depicted theme, quality of artistic composition and overall design based on the theme and the overall impression of the art.
Artists were encouraged to explore the role of public space in today's society, and how public spaces can enhance and enrich the lives of the citizens who visit it. The goal of the contest, says Grimes, is to grow and expand it beyond the bounds of the Park. She says, “we're hoping for bigger prizes, better ways to engage artists, and more interesting ways to display artwork. We're open to comments and feedback from the community, too!” She said many of the submissions came from architects, but that artists and amateurs of all skills levels are invited to participate.
The inaugural contest took place last year. Its theme was the “Four Freedoms,” in celebration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s pivotal 1941 address. Artists were encouraged to explore the meaning and legacy of the four freedoms – freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear – and how those freedoms relate to art, expression, the built environment, and life in the 21st century more broadly.
The contest was born out of an idea from a park ranger at an all-staff meeting in early 2017: create a way to more deeply engage artists who regularly visit the Park to sketch. Ultimately, Grimes says, they partnered with one of their most frequent sketch artists, Richard Alomar. Alomar, a VP of Urban Sketchers, an Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at Rutgers University, and an artist, helped shepherd this program. He connected them with a variety of artists and groups, and held sketching meet-ups to bring artists together at the Park.
The Sketch 4 Freedom contest continues to evolve as it grow, with extension of the sketch contest, offering more prizes, and limiting submissions to one per artist. Grimes says they continue looking for ways to expand it further.
One suggestion, to host a kids’ sketch contest would require the collaboration of a partner organization – perhaps a school or youth program – to help bring it to life.
The Park has a robust relationship with the arts. They launched their annual Intergenerational Documentary Program in 2016, pairing high school interns from Studio in a School’s Bloomberg Arts & Culture Internship Program with a documentary filmmaker to capture and document stories from older New Yorkers who lived during the FDR era. They have participated in the Island’s Fall for Arts Festival and the Cherry Blossom Festival. Earlier this year, they hosted a photo contest that culminated in their outdoor photo exhibition, Capture Your Freedom. Competitors were asked to show how the Four Freedoms extolled in Roosevelt’s speech relate to our lives today. Winners were selected by a team of photo editors and human rights advocates.
The second place winner, artist Hugo Barros Costa, above, and third place winner Robert Miller took home six-month subscriptions to SketchBox.