Armajani’s Lighthouse sculpture hiding in plain sight.

The sculpture consists of a pedestrian bridge and stair house connecting the terminal and the waterfront.

Siah Armajani’s sculpture consists of a pedestrian bridge and stair house connecting the terminal and the waterfront. It helps create a visual corridor leading to the historic buildings there.

One large art installation that is part of the ongoing St. George waterfront revitalization project seems to be all but invisible in all the reportage. Siah Armajani’s 1996 lighthouse sculpture and pedestrian bridge stands apparently unseen and definitely closed behind the chain link fences and bus ramps leading into the ferry terminal. Now that the waterfront area just beyond it is finally being restored, and the upland parcel of land is being developed, it seems to be the right time to assess the added value that this work brings to the area.

the vertical bars of the lighthouse sculpture echo the effect of sunlight on the railings on the upper story of this warehouse building.

the vertical bars of the lighthouse sculpture echo the effect of sunlight on the railings on the upper story of this warehouse building.

It may not be a great wonder to look at on its own, but when viewed in context it has some very noteworthy qualities. It is in a style that seems to bridge the gap between 19th century warehouses along the waterfront and the 21st Century ferry terminal, thus giving its bridge theme an appropriate visual aspect. Its placement also creates a visual corridor for the restoration area, giving it a separate identity from the modern developement to be built on the upland segment of this parcel. In March of 2014 the Lighthouse Point development project, which includes retail, condos and a boutique hotel, received final approval and construction may begin later this year. And just as importantly, the sculpture serves a practical purpose, as its stairway, when reopened, will provide a welcome alternate route into the terminal, allowing pedestrians from the waterfront (and Bay Street Landing) to avoid the depressing crawl underneath the ramps. The stairs will undoubtedly afford a spectacular view of the harbor and the ongoing construction. According to a report in DNAinfo a few months ago, it is in for a restoration of its own, after being left to decay practically since the day it was completed. According to the report, repairs to the structure should begin in the summer of this year and be completed by Spring, 2015… that is, if anyone can find it.



Inspired Artists at the John A. Noble Museum

John Noble's houseboat studio, the centerpiece of the museum's Noble collection.

John Noble’s houseboat studio, the centerpiece of the museum’s Noble collection.

The new exhibit of works by contemporary artists inspired by John A. Noble opened last night at the Noble Museum in Snug Harbor. Eight artists are presenting works big and small that “respond” to John A. Noble’s magnificent body of work, drawings, paintings, etchings, etc. that are on glorious display in the museum. There are oil paintings, including some beautiful miniatures done on old metro cards by Patrizia Vignola, and a scale model of a salt dock by Dan and Mariel Law Adams. There are other impressive works by Bill Higgins, Frank Hanavan, Patricia Melvin, Dan Thompson and Christopher Clarke. Get an idea of the exhibit at the Noble Museum’s Facebook page and get more info about the museum on their website. The exhibit is a great reason to get out to Snug Harbor to visit the museum and reacquaint yourself with the maritime art, artifacts and history on view there.

Bill Higgins with his photograph of the ferryboat Astoria in mud of the Arthur Kill.

Bill Higgins with his photograph of the ferryboat Astoria in mud of the Arthur Kill.

Banksy does Staten Island! After the vaginal anthill, now Marilyn in St. George?

Image If Banksy was looking for someplace to place his work where it would not be covered/painted over, tagged, rented out, vilified, hated or loved, he came to the right place, Staten Island, where it would simply be ignored! Banksy, (if you indeed exist..) you get the Christopher Columbus award for discovering the obvious, you found Staten Island, something, even most New Yorkers are apparently incapable of doing. But did you have to do it with a vagina anthill? On the other hand, Staten Islanders are pretty clueless, too, as they pass by dear Marilyn without a second glance. She is a little street art gem, located along the parking lot wall on Hyatt Street, just a few steps before the intersection with St. Marks Place in St. George, three blocks from the ferry. She is just about at the spot of the street where the elderly anti-abortion lady had been on Monday, handing out her leaflets about murder. The elderly lady is an occasional feature of that section of Hyatt Street, but if she had turned up on Wednesday, and stood in the same spot, she would have been facing Marilyn, enjoying a somewhat compromising position. Image Marilyn Monroe adjusts her skirts next to a vestigial set of stone steps at the decidedly unpicturesque parking lot on Hyatt Street. She is only about two feet tall, by the way and she is apparently made up partially of an old subway map, which Banksy or whoever, had to consult several times in order to find this spot in the first place. I noticed it when I was coming up the street and saw three teenagers crouching down and examining it. I said, “Is that Banksy?” and they said that that’s what everybody was saying. So I guess the high schoolers found it! Long live Curtis and McKee High Schools! Well, what do you think? Is it Banksy or is it not? And if a tree falls in forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? And if this is not Banksy, then who is it? And is it any less interesting or “artistic” because of that? Certainly it is less valuable in terms of dollars, but that has little to with the real value of art…. (snark, sarcasm, ahem.)

Staten Island OutLOUD presents Moby Dick at Fort Wadsworth

English: Illustration from an early edition of...

English: Illustration from an early edition of Moby-Dick (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow, Saturday, that elusive whale makes an appearance at Fort Wadsworth, courtesy of Staten Island OutLoud, an organizer of unique literary events. So if you are unfamiliar with the beautiful fort, or with the wonderful novel by Herman Melville, come out on this midsummer weekend. A message form Beth Gorrie. She is the animator of OutLOUD and is a Staten Island local treasure.

Staten Island OutLOUD invites you to our annual Moby Dick celebration this Sat July 27, 6:30pm at Fort Wadsworth.  Free. Music by SI Philharmonic.
Plenty of free parking in the Visitors Center lot, then walk about 50 ft to the spectacular Harbor Overlook.  Bring friends, bring family.  Bring the kids!  Good for all ages.
Beth Gorrie

Here is a link to the OutLOUD website.

Fort Wadsworth

Fort Wadsworth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Boardwalk Empire at Port Richmond: the difference a film crew can make

Welcome To Port Richmond

Welcome To Port Richmond (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Residents of places like Brooklyn Heights and the West Village know film crews as that plague of self important invaders who swoop down on a neighborhood and disrupt parking  and access for days or weeks without benefiting the community much at all. But for a fringe community on the tattered fringe of the city, the arrival of these exotic outsiders can be a pleasant change. Beryl Thurman of the North Shore Waterfront Conservancy shared this letter she sent thanking Boardwalk Empire for their use of Port Richmond locations.

Dear All,
Something unusual has been happening in Port Richmond down by the waterfront. The place that time forgot so to speak with its Victorian homes and old store fronts. This section near the waterfront was discovered by the cast and crew of Boardwalk Empire an HBO T.V. series.
It was movie magic that brought the area back to life not just with the activity of seeing the actors walking around in period custom. It was also seeing the many different kinds of jobs that the movie industry creates in filming a production. Having the crew here allowed many of the residents to not only see what happens behind the scenes in making a film. It allowed the young people to ask questions about what the crew was doing? And a introduction to asking how would a person get a job like that?

People were walking and driving by all day and night taking pictures of the Ford Model T cars that lined the streets and wondering how something that was made back in 1924 is still working in 2013 when nothing made today is actually made to last beyond 3 years.

Boardwalk Empire did something for the people of Port Richmond that will leave an indelible memory that may even lead to them recognizing, that there is a whole world out there just waiting to be explored, as well as career opportunities that were never imagined. NSWC has often told Staten Island politicians and economic development corporations that Staten Island must diversify in the kinds of businesses and industries that we have here on the island. There are many kinds of careers that can be tapped into if we have the imagination to do it.
Boardwalk Empire’s presence here was a impromptu career day and for the residents a positive learning experience that was very meaningful on many different levels.
Pass It On…
Beryl A. Thurman, Executive Director/President
Creating Livable Communities

What is that rocking boat thingie at the Ferry Terminal?

If you ever use the pedestrian walkway to enter the St. George Ferry Terminal from Richmond Terrace, you may have asked yourself that question at some point during the past two weeks. A wooden box about six feet tall has appeared on the concrete terrace that runs over the train yards just before the entrance to the terminal building. It has some odd protrusions of a nautical nature: two ends of a rowboat, a small beach ball, a larger ball in the shape of the earth, a little plastic flag on top. Maybe you pass by just as some young children are slapping the earth back and forth in its wooden nook. Or maybe you see a teenager or two rocking it on its rounded base. Did somebody leave that there by mistake? It piques your interest but you’re in a hurry, the boat is coming in and you pass it with only the most casual curiosity.

But as odd as it may seem to find a work of art here at the corner of Concrete and Chain Link Fence, it is a work of art, indeed. And if you are especially observant you may notice the red sign attached to the light pole nearby: Aquatic Random, a sculpture by Gabriela Galván. Ah ha!

Gabriela Galván in front of her sculpture Aquatic Random

The charming Gabriela Galván in front of her sculpture Aquatic Random. Photo by G. Rajan

Gabriela Galván is a Mexican American artist who lives in Brooklyn. She has a ready smile and a contagious enthusiasm. According to the accompanying sign, her sculpture Aquatic Random is meant to provoke thought about man’s relationship to the sea, in light of global warming and the expectations of different cultural groups. This work is part of the DOT’s public art program. Keep up the good work, Gabriela, we hope to see more soon!