NYC taps into public art with waterfalls display

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New York is already a well-known show town. But this summer, the Big Apple is planning to stage a really big show: a piece of temporary monumental public art called "The New York City Waterfalls," created by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson.

The artwork will comprise four man-made waterfalls, ranging from 90 to 120 feet high, placed at various points in New York's harbor.

The waters will flow from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. from July through October, and the falls will be lighted after sunset. Planners said that at some vantage points along the East River, viewers will be able to see more than one falls at a time.

The art project was commissioned by the city's Public Art Fund, created in 1977 to commission and bring contemporary art before a larger audience. The fund said the "Waterfalls" project will cost $15 million, in private funds, to construct and operate. In turn, the city's Economic Development Corp. estimated the project would contribute $55 million to New York's economy.

Circle Line Downtown, in collaboration with the Public Art Fund, will organize daily free and discounted sightseeing boat excursions. Free ferries to Governors Island and Staten Island will provide close-up views, as well.

The four sites for the falls will be:
The Brooklyn Bridge, on the Brooklyn Anchorage, under the bridge, at 80 feet wide and 90 feet high.
The north shore of Governors Island, at 60 feet wide and 120 feet high.
Pier 35 in Lower Manhattan, at 30 feet wide and 110 feet high.
Between Piers 4 and 5 in Brooklyn, at 30 feet wide and 120 feet high.

The Public Art Fund and the city tout "Waterfalls" as a carbon-neutral project that protects water life, the river and shoreline. It will run on "green" electricity generated through power company Consolidated Edison's Con Ed Solutions program.

In addition, the project is being viewed as an educational tool. A number of environmental organizations, the departments of Education and of Environmental Protection and the Public Art Fund plan to integrate a specially created curriculum into the city's classrooms.

The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park, with views of the installations from its rooms and suites, is selling a New York City Waterfalls package that includes two tickets for an hourlong cruise to view the exhibit. The package, available July 4 through Oct. 14, starts at $650 per couple, with additional nights available at prevailing rates.

Meanwhile, in the run-up to the main event, a midcareer retrospective of Eliasson's work will be on view in the city. The works will be exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and PS 1 Contemporary Art Center from April 20 to June 30.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Nadine Godwin at [email protected].

 

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