April 23


Floyd Bennett Field! Public Arts Festival – Looking to the Future

April 23, 2024

Vol. 104 No. 17

The Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) hosted its inaugural Floyd Bennett Field! Public Arts Festival on April 19-21, 2024.  The family-friendly event had something for everyone, including live music, silent disco, ranger-led activities, lawn games, a makers market, food trucks and access to historic buildings, but the main feature was an amazing artwork display, projection mapped onto the façade of two of its historic buildings – Hangars 3 and 4.

After sunset, guests sat on lawn chairs, some wrapped in blankets, to view the almost hour-long digital artwork display created by local artists, including students from Brooklyn College and the Fashion Institute of Technology.  For those not familiar with projection mapping, it’s a technique used to turn objects, often irregularly shaped, into display surfaces for video projection.  Each original artwork, some focusing on the magic of summer in the Rockaways, highlighted the architectural features on the historic hangars, while the entire program was set to music.

Floyd Bennett Field, part of Gateway National Recreation Area, has a rich history.   Established in 1931 as NYC’s first municipal airport, it served as a launch pad for famous pilots like Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes.

Gateway Superintendent Jen Nersesian welcomed visitors to the weekend-long  event, which marked the beginning of National Park Week.  The 50th anniversary of Gateway, the first urban national park, was celebrated in 2022, and Nersesian said they are looking forward to the future.  “We are moving forward with major efforts and plans for the activation and revitalization of Floyd Bennett Field, including the renovation of Hangars 3 and 4,” she said.

“The National Park Service (NPS) and Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy will transform the facility into a space for green job development, cultural and arts events, and visitor amenities, including food and beverage,” she told visitors.

Terri Carta, executive director of JBRPC, said they were proud to partner with the NPS, stating that the Parks Service has nearly $26 million allocated for the rehabilitation of the exterior of the buildings.  Once complete, JBRPC will fund and manage an interior retrofit of the hangars.

The event also included performances by the Sesame Flyers Steel Pan Ensemble; Batala, a women’s percussion ensemble; and Wild Yaks.

On Sunday, tours were given of Hangar B, which houses historic aircraft, and the control tower and tunnels in the Ryan Visitor Center.

Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, a public-private partnership established in 2013, is dedicated to improving 10,000 acres of public parklands throughout Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway peninsula.

Visitors enjoying the first-ever Floyd Bennett Field! Public Arts Festival
Guests help paint a Community Mural for Gateway.
The Sesame Flyers Steel Pan Ensemble performing at Floyd Bennett Field.
Batala, a women’s percussion group, entertains the crowd at public arts festival on April 20th.

View some of the beautiful digital artwork, projection mapped onto historic hangars 3 and 4, below.


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