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June 26, 2008

Art Goes Alfresco in New York City

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As temperatures rise in Gotham, so do a host of zany structures. In Conde Nast Traveler's July issue, hot off the press, Word of Mouth editor Kate Maxwell shows how to see them all in under 12 hours.

10:30 a.m.: Olafur Eliasson's Waterfalls
Various waterside locations
Start the day by catching a Circle Line cruise from South Street Seaport for a tour of the summer's main event. Danish artist Eliasson is pumping the East River up 90- and 120-foot-high metal scaffolds to produce four waterfalls. On the Brooklyn side of the river, a waterfall juts out from beneath the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, where Walt Whitman was inspired by the city's clash of nature and artifice. A second one gushes below the Brooklyn Bridge, and there's a third at Pier 35, on the Manhattan side, giving a cascading lift to far east Chinatown. The final fall sparkles from the shores of the oft admired, rarely visited Governors Island.

12 noon: David Byrne's Playing the Building
Battery Maritime Building
Former Talking Head and longtime artist Byrne has designed a surround sound experience for Lower Manhattan passersby. Walk into the hulking Battery Maritime Building, by the Governors Island ferries, sit down at an organ, and "play the building": Each key is connected to beams and pipes and vibrates them to produce eerie, if not quite "Psycho Killer"-tempo, hums (Fri.-Sun.).

2 p.m.: Work's Vegetable Garden
P.S. 1, Long Island City
Among the industrial garages around the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, in Queens, Work Architecture Company has transformed a rock-strewn, cement-walled courtyard and summer chill-out area into a vegetable patch growing in a very urban version of dirt: cardboard tubes.

4:30 p.m.: Home Delivery
Museum of Modern Art
Prefab homes go upscale in the (currently) empty lot next to Midtown's Museum of Modern Art, where five high-end trailers are installed as part of the "Home Delivery" show. They include a 76-square-foot green-energy-powered aluminum cube that can be helicoptered in to the vacation spot of your choice.

6 p.m.: Chris Burden's Tower
Rockefeller Center
Burden, famous for having himself shot as a piece of performance art, is now obsessed with giant Erector Sets. He has constructed the ultimate Erector challenge: a 65-foot skyscraper to boost the Midtown skyline, at least for the summer.

7:30 p.m.: Jeff Koons on the Roof
Metropolitan Museum of Art
End your day with a visit to the Met's rooftop garden, and sip a beer in the shadow of a giant steel balloon dog, among other pneumatic sculptures by conceptual pop master Jeff Koons.

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