There’s something about a bridge.
Maybe it’s the way it seems to defy structural logic. Maybe it’s the way it makes you feel momentarily airborne, both safe and unsafe every time you cross it.
There’s something about art. About huge pieces of public art you can touch and use and walk through. Put them together, add a little wind and sun, and it’s magnificent. And we could all use some magnificence right now.
The new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge path, touted as the Highline of the Hudson Valley, now features the largest permanent public art installation in the New York metro area.
The 3.6 mile-long stretch, which has amenities at both landings, features six uniquely designed overlooks and ten new artworks created by emerging New York State artists.
ArtsWestchester, the state’s largest not-for-profit arts council, approached the New York State Thruway Authority with a vision for the bridge’s shared–use path.
Janet T. Langsam, CEO of ArtsWestchester, says, “The public art walk is an opportunity for art–starved New Yorkers to enjoy public art outdoors during the current pandemic.”
Representatives from ArtsWestchester, Arts Council of Rockland and the Thruway Authority worked together to review over 100 applications from artists in a competitive statewide competition.
TAPPING INTO TAPPAN ZEE
The 10 major artworks include five sculptures, four bicycle racks, and a mural. Three artists incorporated reclaimed steel from the old Tappan Zee Bridge, which stood just to the south from 1955 to 2017.
At the Westchester Landing, you first encounter Current, a sculptural installation made up of twelve triangular steel arches (reclaimed from the Tappan Zee Bridge), dichroic glass fins, and responsive lighting. “
In creating the artwork,” says artist Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong, “I started out by looking in depth into this particular site: the views, the approach, the materiality of the new and old bridge structures, the history of the old bridge and the Hudson area. I wanted Current to create a unique spatial experience that references the river currents, currents of light, and currents of time.”
Next in view is artist and MTA welder Christopher Flick’s bicycle rack Converging Vistas. Its form references the Palisades and the New York City skyline. After that is David Greenberg’s Bike Rack, informed by marine mooring bollards.
Beside them, you will pass by, or perhaps around or through Untitled, For Imre Lendvai. Thomas Lendvai’s slightly unbalanced octagonal forms mimic the ripples on the river’s surface. The structure is already a favorite with young path-goers.
At the Rockland Outlook side of the Cuomo Bridge, a majestic beast springs from the Hudson River. The inspiration for Wendy Klemperer’s Leaping Sturgeon comes from a 14-foot Atlantic sturgeon that was detected by sonar near Tarrytown in 2018.
The steel fish, as with most of Klemperer’s large-scale sculptures, is made from industrial refuse salvaged from scrap yards.
In the South Broadway underpass, you will be briefly immersed in Chris Soria’s colorful abstract mural The Flux of Being, which celebrates the rich biodiversity of the Hudson Valley.
As you approach the Rockland Landing, Fitzhugh Karol’s steel geometric sculpture Approach rises up beside another of Greenberg’s bicycle racks.
At the end of the path, Ilan Averbuch’s sculpture Tappan Zee pays tribute to the Lenape who lived along the Hudson River.
So what, exactly, is it about bridges and art? They connect us. Land to land, thought to idea, artist to viewer. Go and see for yourself. Run, bike, walk or just stand still for a moment and take it all in.
Because we could all use some connection right now.
Caedra Scott-Flaherty is a writer living in Croton-on-Hudson > Caedra.com.