It’s amazing what you’ll see in the city streets these days — rhinos in the East Village; Snoopy and friends in Hudson Square, and half-men, half-forest creatures roaming Broadway. After an endless winter, sculptures and murals are springing up all over. And although the mediums are different, their messages seem largely the same: Can’t we all just get along — and, while we’re at it, save the Earth? At least, that’s what the artists’ statements suggest. You may look at their work and discover something entirely different.
So get out there with your cellphones and cameras. At the very least, you’ll class up your Instagram. Here’s what you’ll find where.
BEASTS ON BROADWAY
Strangely beautiful sculptures now dot six pocket parks between 64th and 157th streets. Collectively titled “In Dreams Awake,” they’re by Kathy Ruttenberg, an upstate New York artist who combines human, animal and plant forms.
“They’re all site-specific,” says Ruttenberg, who spent two years figuring out which piece to put where. For 157th Street, she devised a goat man handing flowers to a mermaid in a fishbowl. “It’s about diversity, role-crossing, and wishing you were somewhere else,” she tells The Post. “Yet a child could look at it and think, ‘How cool! A lady in a fishbowl!’ ”
The life-size bronze couple at 72nd Street — he’s half-deer, half man, she’s a tree trunk with a great pair of gams — suggests a merger of city and country. That, or a couple on their way to a costume party.
Reactions the other day were mixed. “It makes me happy,” said 15-year-old Kimberly Crasta, a visitor from Mumbai, India. “I love nature.”
“It’s weird!” a man shouted, sprinting for the subway. “Really weird!”
A HIT ON THE HIGH LINE
“This is the most political show we’ve ever done,” says curator Cecilia Alemani of “Agora” (from the Greek word for assembly), this year’s exhibit along the elevated Eden that is the High Line.Nine artists from around the world contributed to this project, touching on themes such as ecology, immigration and women’s rights. Some titles are as mystifying as the works: Take Marinella Senatore’s “Give Your Daughters Difficult Names,” a lightbulb-strewn canopy at the base of the park entrance on Gansevoort Street.The most popular piece in the show is also interactive.
Set up near 22nd Street, “The Dig of No Body” breaks a human figure into individual moving parts made of soil, shells and clay, encased in plastic.“It’s a body in slices, like a geology sample,” says its Irish artist, Mariechen Danz. “We had kids yesterday saying, ‘Hi, Mr. Body! We’re going to help you!’ ” as they pushed its parts into place.
RHINOS CHARGE ASTOR PLACE
Near the big black cube on Astor Place is “The Last Three.” Weighing 7 tons and standing 17 feet high, it’s billed as “the world’s largest rhino statue” — apparently, someone out there is measuring these things.
While a pileup of bronzed beasts looks pretty playful, the story behind it is anything but: Husband-and-wife artists Gillie and Marc Schattner created it to publicize the plight of animals hunted to near extinction, in this case, for their horns. A plaque near the sculpture tells you how to petition for action.Although one art critic called it a kitschy bore, passers-by disagree. “I love it,” says Giovanni Bravo, 29, of Union City, NJ. His wide-eyed, 10-year-old daughter, Ruby, agrees. “Rhinos are really big,” she says, “and we should respect them.”
HANG ON, SNOOPY
The Peanuts crew is popping up all over downtown’s Hudson Square — on billboards, warehouse garage doors; even a museum wall. And if Charlie Brown and company look odd, it’s because, well, they were drawn that way: Seven artists, invited to put their own spin on Charles M. Schulz’s characters, did just that.“No one said no to us,” says Melissa Menta of Peanuts Worldwide, which commissioned Rob Pruitt, Kenny Scharf and other contemporary artists — some more conceptual than others — to reinvent Snoopy, Woodstock and friends.
The project has the blessing of Lindsay Schulz, the cartoonist’s 29-year-old granddaughter. Now a conceptual artist in California, she came to the city the other week for the launch, joined by someone in a Snoopy costume.“I just knew my grandfather liked to draw,” says Lindsay, who was thrilled when the cartoonist used her name in one of his strips. (She says he based his Joe Motocross character on her father, Craig.)“I didn’t know what a massive influence he was until he passed away, she says. “Making these characters accessible to other artists is a big deal!
COLOR FOR CENTRAL PARK
At the park’s 60th Street and Fifth Avenue entrance, near that grand, gilded statue of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, stands a 23-foot-tall Fiberglas tower. All gold, white, brown and teal, it unfurls like a piece of African kente fabric.“Wind Sculpture (SG),” which the Public Art Fund commissioned from the British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, who calls its many colors “the perfect metaphor for multilayered identities.”That metaphor may be too subtle for some passers-by, who seemed content to simply snap away, enjoying all that color against a deep-blue sky.“Other than that it’s cool, I don’t know what it means,” said Matt Metzler, 39, visiting from Boston.Said his son, Declan, 8: “It looks like a Fruit Roll-Up and I think I want to eat it!”
TAKIN’ ART TO THE STREETS
The city’s outdoor art explosion has only just begun. Here’s a sampling of what else is on the way to a street or park near you.
Hot dog! A vintage Volkswagen Microbus was repurposed as a sculpture that keeps on giving … free wieners. Austrian artist Erwin Wurm’s mustard-yellow “Hot Dog Bus” (below) opens June 9 at Brooklyn Bridge Park, where it will dispense hot dogs on the piers on weekends from noon to 6 p.m. through Aug. 26. Talk about art you’ll relish!
With bated breath: Art isn’t always something you can see. Brooklyn-based artist Sari Carel designed an immersive soundscape composed entirely of the sounds of breathing, much of it labored, since many of her subjects are living with asthma and other respiratory ills. Expect crackles, beats and huffs — not just from politicians — when the piece, titled “Out of Thin Air,” opens June 1 at City Hall Park, Broadway and Chambers Street.
If books could fly: Anselm Kiefer’s “Uraeus” will spread its wings at Rockefeller Center from May 2 to July 22, adding some un-Jeff Koons-like gravitas to the Fifth Avenue entrance to the Channel Gardens. Although it sounds like a planet, it actually takes its name from a legendary Egyptian cobra, but what you’ll see is a gigantic open book sprouting eagle’s wings. Forgive us for detecting a “Harry Potter” vibe.Dissolving softly: Madison Square Park, longtime home of Shake Shack, will make way for “Delirious Matter”: six sculptures that suggest what’s being billed as “the elegiac beauty of deteriorating structures.” Diana Al-Hadid, the Syrian-born, Brooklyn-based artist who created it, gives us reclining female figures and more, nestled into plant material that will gradually decompose during its May 14 to Sept. 3 run. Something to think about over burgers and fries.