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Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts



1083 Fifth Avenue and 5 East 89th Street, New York NY 10128




This catalog accompanies the on-line exhibition of 

Cyber Heroes of New York -- 14 new murals and 

prints I created at the National Academy Museum 

& School of Fine Arts in New York, as a Fellow in 

the Abbey Fund Mural Workshop, summer 2004, 

plus variations on paper and silk in 2005.


I composed these murals for the Stone Room, the 

formal dining room of the National Academy Museum. 


My mural Heroes are existential archetypes, incandescent personas 

of utmost symbolic diversity, always walking into the future. 

Their luminosity is symbolic of a bright awareness of 

our unique moment in history. They signify the synthesis of 

the past forever becoming the future.  


The Hero murals challenge the traditions of mural painting by

introducing the concept of the instant global picture –

by projecting murals via streaming video on the internet 

to create public art simultaneously at many sites around the world, with participation in real time from any distance. 

The murals challenge our understanding of location and distance.


I produced the murals in the form of a photoshop maquette

and storyboard as part of a theoretical competition

among the 12 Fellows, for a public art commission with

a phantom budget of $200,00o. My mural maquette 

and storyboard were first exhibited at the National 

Academy in August and September, 2004.


The murals are now in production as prints and curtains, on a variety of archival papers, silks and synthetic blends, using museum quality pigments and state-of-the-art digital printing techniques. The murals are made in custom sizes for large scale indoor or outdoor installations or framed as wall art. The prints and many variations are on exhibition on my website, 


Holly Alderman

Mt. Monadnock

Jaffrey, New Hampshire

November 2005










North, East, West, South


4.   ARTIST: Holly Alderman


All images, photos and narrative c 2004 by Holly Alderman. Grace Graupe-Pillard’s NYC Apple photo by Michael Brown. All rights reserved: no reproduction without written permission from the artist, email



1.   MURALS as ART

Murals are not just paintings on walls but are uniquely site-specific and expansive installations. They are also permanent works of art with meaning that synthesizes the historic context and current use of their immediate local environment, with respect to its social history, architectural style, geographic orientation and the spirit of the present time. Moreover, murals adorn building surfaces with images on a human scale that is comprehensible only by viewing while walking back and forth and changing distances near and far, because an entire mural composition cannot be fully observed from a single vantage point. An architectural site, a meaningful theme, and issues of orientation and scale are fundamentals that have characterized mural painting since antiquity. 





For murals to be truly meaningful and memorable, for public art to capture and define the moment, the artist must rethink not only how the culture of the present time is distinct, but also what significant factors make a certain location unique. Furthermore the artist must re-imagine the purpose and limits of style and technique and consider whether inventions are possible. Such a dominant force as the web, no less than a global cultural turning point, opens new possibilities and warrants experimentation and adventure in the realm of artistic technique. 



My mural proposal is designed for The Stone Room, the formal dining room of the National Academy Museum on Fifth Avenue. This Beaux Arts mansion on Central Park has long been a haven for notable American artists. Where better to confront old with new, superimpose classical and post-modern, contrast and commemorate past, present and future? To synthesize tradition and innovation, yet to challenge the historical definition of mural painting, I extend my new series, Cyber Heroes of New York over and beyond the architectural surface or the museum into intangible cyberspace at and 


Because my Heroes are envisioned for the National Academy, they are entirely site-specific to this particular building in New York. Any sequels of Heroes in other locations will be site-specific to the new environments. 




THE STONE ROOM                           

 Ogden Codman’s drawing of the north wall of the Stone Room

  length: 35.5’, width: 25’, height: 16’

The Huntington mansion was once a salon for the society portrayed in the novels of Edith Wharton, and now exemplifies adaptive reuse of a private home as a museum-school. As the headquarters for the National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts (founded in 1825), it symbolizes the artistic legacy of great American painters. With its 16 foot Palladian windows and other classical features, The Stone Room serves as a gallery for art exhibitions and comfortably accommodates elegant dinner parties for 80 people and celebrations of 120. The ambiance of the private home lingers amidst the art galleries. The location between the Guggenheim and Cooper Hewitt Museums, in the Carnegie Hill landmark district on Fifth Avenue’s Museum Mile, makes this mansion an ideal site for special events. 


In 1913, owners Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington engaged architect Ogden Codman 

to remodel the house. The Stone Room manifests Codman’s desire for perfect mirror symmetry. Its understated simplicity and style from classical antiquity create an assurance of tranquility and timelessness. Doric pilasters with fluted shafts divide the walls of simulated ashlar Caen stone into round-arched bays. Niches for sculpture face each other across the length of the room. Today, these niches contain plaster casts of antique sculptures of ideal male and female figures, Apollo or Caesar and Venus de Milo, from the Academy collection. 

Global Public Art

Ogden Codman’s architectural gem becomes a stage for art and science where murals connect with the multi-dimensionality of the Internet to create global public art within the Academy. The room becomes a virtual kaleidoscope of murals that could be exhibited as well in any other location at the same time. Viewers watch the future of art unveiled with video and smart projectors. In a certain way, the Internet is a mutation, now necessary for survival of humankind, an extension of the mind, an historical turning point that transcends the significance of the Gutenberg Bible as a communication revolution. The power and speed of thought itself is transformed, along with the ideas of location and dimensionality. With this in mind, I re-define murals to include cyber murals, digital murals, digital walls, etc., bringing public murals indoors and museums outdoors. 



THE MAQUETTES demonstrate the new interior of the Stone Room. Inner walls of the scale model display composite photos of the murals framed by the architecture of the room. I composed and installed the murals in Photoshop with transparent layers of original photographs and images of New York (from the New York Public Library and other sources). The South Wall, Central Park Skyline would be a trio of painted scrim curtains over the three tall, arched windows. The North, Meet Me at the Fountain, East, The Muses, and West, Contemplating Another would be digital prints on canvas mounted on the walls with removable wheat paste. The maquette exterior displays photographs of the room “as is” before the installation, with design details and architect’s drawings. Although there is no ceiling with the maquette, the actual ceiling would also be painted decoratively. All surfaces would link to the web. 





HIGH LIGHT -- Sky Scenes


However elegant the decoration, proportion and symmetry, even the name of The Stone Room suggests a heavy spirit, and the room has a color and feeling of confinement. To enliven the spirit of the room and open up the massive gray walls, the artist creates faux transom windows high above in the three pairs of oblong horizontal niches on the East, North and West Walls. For orientation, the East Wall has morning cobalt sky with a few clouds, the North Wall has clear cerulean sky, the West, pictured above, a sunset. In the Northwest faux window, a golden fleeting Hermes poses questions: who brings the newest news, what tricks are the gods playing today, how fast can we travel and how far, what message is important? The golden image is a glimpse of public art from Rockefeller Center.







My unifying theme is the spirit of a hero symbolized in lights like an incandescent persona. I first imagined the giant e-hero when I saw a tall symbol of a walking figure that seemed to be ambling through a display window at Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue. The giant walking figure was composed of light bulbs. Inspired by the display window, in my digital art, the e-hero appears as if walking through composite scenes of New York, a giant personification of the collective identity of urbanity, an e pluribus unum traffic signal emerging from the infrastructure, icons, landmarks, shadows and sculpture, discovered within collages of cityscapes or landscapes of Central Park, pausing amidst window reflections that blend skyscrapers, headless mannequins, taxis, stars and stripes, pedestrians. Overlapping images are my way to suggest evolving or transforming ideas, new patterns of life since the political watershed, 9-11 reaching from New York to Peoria to Our Town. The hero emerges from layers of images as if from layers of memories, from past certainty, from within our collective hope, in thoughts, searching.


The hero is a new generic existential being, both yet neither white and/or black, nor red nor yellow, male/female, young/old, neither one nor the other but all, at once, moving into the next moment or frame, or screen or mural, in any case a different space than heroes of the past, as the Internet creates for us a different dimension and thinking space. This hero is one who understands the implications of the web and its new realities, a hero who has infinite variations and manifestations, hence the title, Cyber Heroes. Are these murals real, or are they electronic multi-dimensionals, slowly changing Cyber Murals projected to and from the Internet? Stay tuned, come back and see.



NORTH, EAST, WEST -- Tradition/Innovation, Ideals/Deconstruction, Peace/War


Five mural compositions present images of New York City, in pairs of rectangles on East and West, and one tall, central arch between double doors on the North wall. The images combine iconographic imagery to bring to mind current changes in our artistic (as well as business, intellectual, political) climate, for example, our distance from the ideals and styles of antiquity, our distance from the harmony of neoclassicism at the turn of the century, our distance from each other despite being cyber neighbors in virtual e-worlds, the invisible social groups that exist only on the Internet, the new communities of tomorrow. (In e-communities such as chat rooms and clubs, I think Pop-ups could be considered the murals of cyberspace.) The mural colors of the Stone Room are subdued because Codman and Wharton recommended that dining rooms should be decorated in subtle but light colors, because the dining room is hardly an appropriate location for sharp or shocking visual stimulation. Perhaps the meanings of the icons in subtle transparency are more powerful as understatement, inspiring or revealing thoughts gradually with time. 



Following is a tour of the maquette with notes on the images; each has more interpretations. Connect the dots to find the hero.




NORTH WALL: Angel & Hero



Center Niche


Bethesda Fountain, Central Park. Emma Stebbins, sculptor, 1870, Calvert Vaux, architect. Artistic interpretations and associations include: angle and hero, love and strength, public art as a cultural crossroad, a meeting place, a focal point for people in the city… the fountain with a giant angel figure itself as a cultural hero… blessings, grace, water fountain, sound of water, gathering crowds, art in life, a city’s treasure of public art, the beauty and power of the statue and of its surroundings, Central Park, Olmstead’s masterpiece of public outdoor space, the spirits in a most magnificent garden. Cherubs signify purity, health, peace, temperance. 


Peonies – sacred and fragrant, symbols of peace and harmony, feminine beauty, healing power, riches, opulence, medicine from China,  a centerpiece for the table that isn’t there, eternal beauty, perennials come back every year, seasons, spring blooms, renewal of hope. In astrology, protction from evil eye, exorcism, balance.


Mercury – the messenger of the gods, from Rockefeller Center.


Go – Dot Person or, Identity To Go? – giant signal (as appears in miniature on every street corner), a character in lights to distill the essence of being, the moving figure of today in contrast to angelic fountain of yesterday, an artistic interpretation of the GO 






walk sign, like a spirit amidst reflections of the city, even for the high style business man or the ultimate stylish woman is there no place to rest -- a symbol of both genders, all ages, races, beliefs – the old everyman as the new everyone, a hero of utmost diversity







Left, Northeast


Apollo or Caesar, the Ideal Male Figure    Beaux Arts ideal statue, forever standing still, a cultural hero of a different time, behind a velvet rope, removed from the center niche to appear in the left mural panel – off center, for the displacement of traditional patriarchy, displacement of ideals, setbacks, in the shadows


Antique Globe    the old world order, understandings and beliefs now obsolete, looking backward, the way everything used to be but is no longer true


Lion – New York Public Library    Library’s two lions are Patience and Obedience. Knowledge, culture, freedom of information, turning points of world history, original Gutenberg Bible, original Declaration of Independence, intellectual integrity, research, academic freedom -- wild, fierce predator at rest


Person To Go – Dots    Light Person: connect the dots to find the ultimate New Yorker, perhaps a peripatetic philosopher and/or an anti-hero, an icon, “sema” or sign, signal, turning point, generic identity-less person without a persona other than “to go” representing all types as there is no longer an ideal, forever in motion, the ultimate existential being, controller and follower, always the stop and go at a rapid pace, controlling crossroads of workers, tourists, homeless, shoppers, children, dogs on leashes


Tree    nature, seasons, growth, evolution (down from trees), Central Park 


Guggenheim, neighboring building    shadows reach from far left to far right over the pair of murals 



Center Niche


Silhouette, reflection, an empty statue of negative space, the missing   where is the clue to identity, who wants to fit within the formal confines of this ideal anyway, women seek new identities not represented in classical ideal statues; the usual shadows on niche become light, shadows and silhouettes of light seem to detach and alight separately at new locations; an empty shell or missing woman, persona without identity, implying that 





what is incomplete is waiting to be finished, symbolic of woman as a social shadow or cut-out, the all too common 2-dimensional perception of women, also the global issue of female infanticide / millions of missing women



Right, Southeast

muse of poetry in classical antiquity, beauty of language, imagination, originality


NYC Apple by Grace Graupe-Pillard, 2004    a big yellow-delicious apple as a complex symbol of 9/11, firemen as ultimate cultural heroes, terrorist attack, turning point in history, pop culture, Michael Brown photo


Ornament    traditional design for dining room, now just a corner, color and symmetry


Gold Star    infinity, cosmos, relativity, theater, champions, glitter and gold, cosmic questions, excellence


Dots    the person on the go, emerging from 9/11, always seeming in motion


MUSE    letters from the Guggenheim Museum sign, about ideas and location, site specific, environment, aesthetic context, meaning of art, inspiration, new ideas, international landmark


Peony    another symbol of harmony related to the centerpiece on the North Wall






Left, Southwest                                                   


Central Park Falconer    in silhouette, a figure from the middle ages, pre-technology culture, eternally ready, forever in the Park, man and nature, fighting, flight, freedom vs. control, times and ways of life lost but not forgotten


Christo’s Globe    Buckminster Fuller’s delicate and cosmic Spaceship Earth all tied up at the beach at sunset, washing out with the seaweed, or just arrived on the beach: new 


respect, new ways of looking at life and the world, sunset as the end of the world or, dramatic sunrise, a new day is dawning


Dots    from a banner at the Met, spirals of mathematics, science and art, connecting man and dreams, uplifting spirit, freedom to soar, collective identity


Go    lightman enters from stage right, also a mini hero in the sky


Center Niche


Ideal female figure    Casts light instead of shadows, grace, dignity, calm, tradition, sensuality, desire, draped for modesty 



Right, Northwest


National Academy   Extgerior view of Ogden Codman’s New York landmark, a Beaux Arts architectural gem, formerly the Huntington townhouse, a building with wide open windows, chaotic transformations from past to present, steadfast through the crumbling of order/meaning, aesthetic survival


Fifth Avenue at 89th Street    site specific signage of nearby Museum Mile street corner


Deconstruction    falling bricks from Site architects, intellectual challenge, reinterpretation of art, or … terrorist attack, symbol of drastic change, loss of hope, chaos, we all fall down, but the cyber hero emerges to search for… what next?


Classic    signage of art delivery vehicle


Go    light silhouette, electronic man, emerging from destruction, lights on and ready for tomorrow, let's go forward


Subtle Dots    a spiral from the banners at the Met connect the pair of murals


David by Michelangelo    symbol of classicism looking out on deconstruction, or away from it, remembering all the wisdom of history but moving into the now, contemplating


Ideal female   Venus de Milo on the outside looking in, an idealist female wondering, is the Academy a man’s world? Through the window, each contemplates the ideal other. 






Mural Trio on Scrim Curtains





Despite the address on Fifth Avenue right across from Central Park, the Stone Room overlooks a dismal view of roof vents, an awkward bunker and an alley. Hence the sheer curtains are permanently closed. Architect Ogden Codman and novelist Edith Wharton in their collaboration, The Decoration of Houses, suggest subtle colors and understatement for dining rooms. His color sketches of New York and Newport dining rooms show thin white curtains, open with tie-backs to allow maximum natural light. However, such a treatment would be inappropriate here. 


Faux Vista


Bringing a view of Central Park around the corner, I propose to print Photoshop images on translucent silk curtains, or paint images on scrim veils that seem to reveal the beauty of the New York skyline as seen over the treetops from the nearby roof garden at the Metropolitan Museum. 


My faux vista brings a sense of optimism and open space to the series and to the room. Compared to the crumbling wall of the deconstruction of the National Academy and the iconography and visual references to the mood of the city since 9-11, the implications of the vista are meant to be uplifting, global and cosmic. These three curtains obscure the harshness of reality without drawing attention, or requiring renovations or landscaping – and offer infinite bright blue sky, the natural charm of Central Park, the drama of New York, and a sense of sunshine and warmth. The mesh material allows maximum light. The effect of painted scrim curtains varies very slowly with time and weather. At night, the painting is subtle with colors distinct, while dawn, daylight and twilight bring changes in the image that becomes a virtual mirage as color and brightness intensify or fade gradually with climate conditions. 

… and after     



















For inspiration and assistance, thanks go to: The Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Fund for Mural Painting in America, National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts, Richard Haas, Grace Graupe-Pillard, : Giuseppe Taibi, founder of Smartworlds, Inc. John Fornier, Ann I. McClellan, Tom Petrovich/Bergdorf Goodman, Anabel Beatty/Curtains Up!, Brian Johnson/BKJ Productions, Tom Blodgett/TBA Resources, Daniel & Chuck Saccardo/Superior Giclee, Michael Brown, Robert Martinez, Roberto Salas, Matthew Steinberg, Francis W. O’Connor, Richard Haas, Ellen Lanyon, Andrew Ginzel, Kuba Tatarkiewicz, Kathryn Hoffman, Hafthor Ingvason, Joshua Winer, Joe Shamy, Diana Wolfe Larkin, Mary Lord, Louise Weed, Jenny Preston, Kim Allis, Elatia Harris, Olga Davidson, Remmi Franklin, Sandy Dick, Laura Simmons, Charles Pillsbury, 

Caroline & Clay Hollister, Jackie Loomis Quillen, Margarita & Bill Loomis, Bill Stevenson.











As prints and curtains




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