Artist Installs Buddhist Peace Offering Above Tribeca's Bogardus Garden

Anne Patterson installs some of the hundreds of Buddhist prayer flags she brought back from a recent trek in Nepal. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Dec. 10, 2018

“I really wanted to bring light and love and peace into this neighborhood,” said artist Anne Patterson.

Bogardus Garden, the site of a lengthy plaza construction project in Tribeca, would hardly seem like the place for something so ambitious and sublime. But Patterson, who is known for her large-scale hanging public art pieces, is hoping that her colorful installation, direct from Kathmandu, will be sharing all those good things.

Back from a trek in Nepal—the Annapurna circuit—where the population is predominantly Buddhist, Patterson, 58, had purchased hundreds of Buddhist prayer flags, each with a different message in Tibetan. Last week she and two assistants hung the flags from ribbon they had strung from trees, above the now-barren fenced garden at Reade and Hudson Streets.

The garden and the plaza next to it (formerly a one-block stretch of Hudson Street) are being merged into a unified 9,000-square-foot triangular park. The work, which began in fall of 2017, is expected to be completed in November, 2019, a year behind schedule, said Tory Weil, president of Friends of Bogardus Plaza. So the Friends group, which is sponsoring the city-funded construction project, views the flags as a kind of peace offering.

“I know the construction is tricky for people in the neighborhood,” said Patterson, a Friends board member who, until she moved to Brooklyn two years ago, had a view of the garden from her apartment at 16 Hudson St. “It’s a way of saying we’re sorry this is taking so long. We’re really doing the best we can as a board to make this be as painless as possible.”

“There’s the construction zone, which is not attractive, and the greenery is all gone,” Weil said. “So it adds some spark and life and beauty to this corner.”

The flags will come down by the end of January, Weil said, to make way for the start of demolition. In the meantime, Tibetan Buddhist tradition holds that as the wind passes through the flags, it will sends prayers of peace and love out to the world.

Patterson, who is not Buddhist, said that when she explains the Buddhist concept of the flags, “some people are like, ‘We really need that.’ You’d think people would see it as so touchy feely and hokey, but they really respond.”

“In our day and age,” Weil agreed, “it’s nice to have peace floating around.”