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Struggling to make rent during the trying years of the Great Depression, Jackson Pollock figured he had nothing to lose—so one spring day, he gathered a few paintings from his humble Greenwich Village studio and displayed them on the sidewalk by Washington Square Park.
Little did he know, Pollock’s small-scale exhibition would position his work in front of the right people, including Whitney Museum of American Art founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and then-Director of the Museum of Modern Art, Alfred H. Barr, Jr. From then on, his career was poised for unimaginable success.
Alongside his friend and fellow contemporary artist, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock inadvertently inaugurated the biannual Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit. Following an unexpected level of interest in Pollock’s showcase, the event gained traction, engaging artists and art lovers from all over the city and the world.
Aside from serving as a platform for exhibiting artists to showcase their wares, the exhibition has explored important themes in art, to include “the abolishing of an early ban on nudes; the opening of the show to photography as an art form; and the recognition of crafts, provided each piece is one-of-a-kind and hand-made,” according to the event’s website.
Artists serve as judges, and dole out cash prizes for the best works of fine art, graphic art, mixed media works, paintings, photographs, sculptures and ceramics, crafts, jewelry, glass, and more.
The spring 2017 edition of the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit will be held along University Place between Waverly and 12th Street from May 27 through May 29, and June 3 and 4 from 12pm until 6pm.