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Open Call for Sculpture:
The Castle Green On Governors Island
New York City

Presented by West Harlem Art Fund &
Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds

Open Call!

Deadline: December 17, 2021
Exhibition Dates: May 1, 2022 through September 25, 2022

Artists are invited to submit installation proposals for a new public art program on Governors Island. This is a collaborative effort between the West Harlem Art Fund, Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds and National Park Service, Manhattan Sites. The theme of this outdoor exhibition — In Defense of the Human Spirit, falls in line with National Park Service interpretive themes for Governors Island. The forts were built to protect the harbor from foreign invaders, particularly around the time of the War of 1812. The country was protecting an imperfect vision of freedom that we are still grappling with today. We welcome sculptures of varying materials that speak to that American spirit.


Governors Island is a 172-acre (70 ha) island in New York Harbor, within the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is located approximately 800 yards (732 m) south of Manhattan Island, and is separated from Brooklyn to the east by the 400-yard-wide (370 m) Buttermilk Channel. The National Park Service administers a small portion of the north of the island as the Governors Island National Monument, including two former military fortifications named Fort Jay and Castle Williams. The Trust for Governors Island operates the remaining 150 acres (61 ha), including 52 historic buildings, as a public park. About 103 acres (42 ha) of the land area is fill, added in the early 1900s to the south of the original island.

Governors Island

The native Lenape originally referred to Governors Island as Paggank ("nut island") because of the area's rich collection of Chestnut, Hickory, and Oak trees, and because it is believed that this space was originally used for seasonal foraging and hunting. The name was translated into the Dutch Noten Eylandt, then Anglicized into Nutten Island, before being renamed Governor's Island by the late 18th century. The island's use as a military installation dates to 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, when Continental Army troops raised defensive works on the island. From 1783 to 1966, the island was a United States Army post, serving mainly as a training ground for troops, though it also served as a strategic defense point during wartime. The island then served as a major United States Coast Guard installation until 1996. Following its decommissioning as a military base, there were several plans for redeveloping Governors Island. It was sold to the public for a nominal sum in 2003, and opened for public use in 2005.



Fort Jay, located on Governors Island in New York Harbor, is one half-mile from the southern tip of Manhattan. No defensive works are known to have been erected on the island during its early history. Defensive earthen works were first erected on the highest point of Governors Island by Continental troops in 1775-76. The island and its fort were occupied by the British during the American Revolution until 1783, when it was surrendered, along with several buildings, to the Governor of New York. More than 10 years passed before renewed tensions with Great Britain resulted in funding from both the New York Legislature and the United States Congress in 1794 to reconstruct the works on Governors Island. This was part of a larger national effort to fortify ports that later became known as the First American System of coastal fortifications. Design of the New York Harbor defenses was assigned to French engineer Charles Vincent. The works on Governors Island had been completed by 1796, described in January of that year by the Secretary of War as "a fort made of earth, and two batteries under its protection, partly lined with brick masonry, two air furnaces, a large powder magazine, and a barrack for the garrison." Fears of a French invasion in 1797 resulted in a second- phase effort funded by additional appropriations to complete and enhance the coastal fortifications, including those on Governors Island. The fort is said to have acquired the name "Fort Jay" in 1798 for John Jay, then Governor of New York State. Governors Island and its fort were conveyed to the federal government two years later, in 1800, by an Act of the New York State Legislature. A plan of the fort as it existed that year shows it as a four-bastioned form surrounded by a ditch with a parapet having 51 embrasures, a gate and bridge on the east side, and a large magazine in the northeast bastion. The fort was still incomplete and incapable of defense in 1802, according to a written report, although it was then equipped with a "handsome Gateway with a Corps de Garde," or guardhouse, that survives today.



Castle Williams is a circular defensive work of red sandstone on the west point of Governors Island in New York Harbor. It was designed and erected between 1807 and 1811, designed by the Chief Engineer of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Col. Jonathan Williams, for whom the fort is named, and considered a prototype for new forms of coastal fortification. The castle was one component of a larger defensive system for the inner harbor that included Fort Jay and the South Battery on Governors Island, Castle Clinton at the tip of Manhattan, Fort Gibson at Ellis Island (then Oyster Island), and Fort Wood, which is now the base of Liberty Enlightening the World at Liberty Island (then Bedloe's Island). This system of forts came to be known as the Second American System of coastal defense and existed to protect harbors like the one in New York from British interference with American shipping. Its usefulness as a fort began to end in the 1830s, so Castle Williams subsequently served as barracks for the island's garrison and new and transient troops. Thereafter, the castle was remodeled by the US Army for use as a prison in various forms during the Civil War and through the first half of the 20th century.

Fort Jay

Castle Williams


West Harlem Art Fund (WHAF) is a twenty-three-year old, public art and new media organization. Like explorers from the past, who searched for new lands and people, WHAF seek opportunities for artists and creative professionals throughout NYC and beyond wishing to showcase and share their talent. The West Harlem Art Fund presents art and culture in open and public spaces to add aesthetic interest; promote historical and cultural heritage; and support community involvement in local development. Our heritage symbol Afuntummireku-denkyemmtreku: is the double crocodile from West Africa Ghana which means unity in diversity.

Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds is a vibrant community environment dedicated to arts education and appreciation on the Connecticut shoreline. Our mission is to create a bond between art, nature & community by inspiring and promoting participation in the arts. With over 100 sculptures woven throughout different gardens and courtyards, this en plein air art experience allows visitors to enjoy incredible large-scale contemporary sculptures on 4.5 beautifully landscaped acres.  Visitors are encouraged to explore the grounds and interact with the works, perhaps turning kinetic elements or wandering through open pieces. On the property sits the home of artist Gilbert Boro and although the residence is not open to the public, Boro welcomes visitors to the seasonal "cafe" area outside the house to take a rest, picnic, and take in the sights. The Sculpture Grounds are open daily from 9-5pm and admission is FREE! 

* Please note *
no works can be dug into the ground.
All submitted sculpture must have a base.
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