Field Trip: Stroll to Madison Square Park

Madison Square Park’s installation of Hugh Hayden’s “Brier Patch”
On view till May 1

I don’t need to tell any of you how to get to Mad and 25th, but I will note that we (this was the good idea of H.) walked up and made a point to go through Silver Towers to see the Picasso sculpture in the courtyard there, which I always forget about but love to encounter. We made it an early morning trip, and therefore found brunch after the park. But there’s a rationalization to go in the afternoon to catch Clocktower or Gramercy Tavern for a drink instead.

Hugh Hayden is a native of Texas but lives and works here; this installation was commissioned by the Madison Square Park Conservancy and is presented in four corners of the park.

The piece features 100 wooden elementary school-style desks that have tree branches seeming to grow out of them, tangling together overhead. The notion is of the brier patch as a place protective for some and dangerous for others, “drawing connections to similar disparities within the education system and the ideal of the American Dream.”

“Hayden transforms everyday objects into new forms that expose the properties and purpose of the original source,” said Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Deputy Director and Martin Friedman Chief Curator of Madison Square Park Conservancy. “Brier Patch is both visually powerful and loaded with inherent tensions — growth and stagnation, seduction and peril, individual and community — that ask us to consider how these dichotomies coexist in engrained systems and the work on view.”

Read the review in The Times here.

Visitors can sit in one collection of chairs, but otherwise the sculptures make good use of the closed lawns. (NB: Friends of Washington Market Park)

There was a six-person line at Johny’s Luncheonette, so we went instead to Blank Slate, which had a well-priced and satisfying all-day brunch menu. The catch: you have to go further up Madison (to 30th) which becomes more of a no-man’s land (maybe I should say nomad land!) once you get north of the park.

Of course the park has the original Shake Shack, open 10a to 7p.

Another good option: the Danish grab-and-go bakery and lunch spot Ole & Steen (Bway and 18th). (They have handmade peeps.)



  1. Welp, I guess I know what me and the pup are doing Saturday morning!! Thanks for the call out.

  2. The chair exhibition looks like a beautiful one.

  3. If North of 30/Madison is no man’s land than all of Tribeca is a nuclear wasteland desert. What a naive statement to make.

  4. Aw I wish we had these in Tribeca – it would be great to get people down here