Swedish artist Hanna Liden remembers the first time she had a New York City bagel. “It was 1998 which I know because that’s when I moved here,” she says. “I don’t remember what the shop was called, but I know that it was in the Meatpacking District. I got a plain bagel with lox cream cheese and then I walked to this park on Hudson and I ate it there.” Since then Liden has become a seamless part of the downtown subculture, with a squad that includes Nate Lowman and Dan Colen and exhibitions ranging from solo shows at Rivington Arms to the 2008 Whitney Biennial. “New York is a city of immigrants,” says Colen. “Hanna has always made perfect sense here, but undoubtably has sprinkled the city and the amazingly large and diverse group of people she’s touched with her unique personality.”

Tonight, Liden is unveiling an homage to that ring-shaped carbohydrate with “Everything,” a two-part public art installation in Hudson River Park and the Ruth Wittenberg Plaza. Using industrial Styrofoam and polyurethane, Liden carved large-scale versions of the breakfast favorite, both individually and in stacks as makeshift vases. The tallest sculpture is 17 feet tall — a challenge for Liden, who started her career in photography. “To make it I had to work with a lot more people than I usually do,” she says. “The way that I run my studio I don’t have 50 people or 15 people or even five, I like to work in solitude. So that was a big difference.”

The idea for the project, presented by Art Production Fund and Kiehl’s, came to Liden after she staged a photography show at New York’s Maccarone gallery last spring. The series of still life photos captured found objects (a water bottle, a shoe, a deli bag) fashioned as vases. “Sort of like bodega or sidewalk stuff. And one of the pictures was a stack of five bagels with a tulip on it that I had spray-painted black,” she says. That image formed the basis of her sculptures. “I think it’s important to have humor involved if you’re going to put something on the street,” she says. “And I like how, with a sculpture, it’s more of a physical experience [compared to] if you stand in front of a framed thing that’s flat on the wall.”

Her hope is that people will take advantage of that physicality. “I’m sort of hoping people will sit on the bagel. I’m hoping that children will like it,” she says. It’s a much more democratic approach to art than she’s been able to take in the past. “Christopher Street, from end to end, is such an important passage way for so many people from so many places,” says Lowman. “There couldn’t be a better location for this monumental homage to New York.” Liden agrees: “It’s an exciting opportunity to have all different types of people exposed to my work. The art world is such a microcosm — a gallery never has a wide audience. Maybe if you’re at MoMA some tourists will see it. But when it’s on the street, it’s a totally different audience.”

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