New Pier 42 project hooks people with art, fishing

Beyond Eco Dome: Mary Mattingly, seated above, is creating “Triple Island,” a unique eco exhibit with a geodesic dome-like structure. Outside the dome, free fishing gear and lessons are being provided. The trees in the planters, below, will eventually go to nearby NYCHA complexes, but for now provide shade on the East River waterfront.   Downtown Express photos by Tequila Minsky

Beyond Eco Dome: Mary Mattingly, seated above, is creating “Triple Island,” a unique eco exhibit with a geodesic dome-like structure. Outside the dome, free fishing gear and lessons are being provided. The trees in the planters, below, will eventually go to nearby NYCHA complexes, but for now provide shade on the East River waterfront.
Downtown Express photos by Tequila Minsky

BY TEQUILA MINSKY  |  With support from a bevy of Lower East Side community organization partners and sponsors, including the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and the Parks Department, the pop-up park/art installation “Paths to Pier 42” celebrated its summer launch on Sat., July 20.

Fluttering flags overhead mark Pier 42, on the East River waterfront, just south of East River Park and the F.D.R. Drive crossover at Corlears Hook Park. The opening of the installations by five artists and architects was coordinated with City of Water Day — events happening along all the boroughs’ waterfront venues, Governors Island and New Jersey’s coast.

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Braving the blazing sun and snacking on slices provided by Cowboy Pizza, artists and neighborhood residents sat on custom planter benches made from recycled lumber, with the planters containing trees that are on “temporary hold.” Entitled “Tree Grove /Rest Stop,” by Interboro Partners, this installation’s trees are intended as replacements for those lost during Hurricane Sandy in nearby Housing Authority developments.

Mary Mattingly’s “Triple Island,” a three-part installation, is the most visually engaging of the lot. The sculpture/environment is a habitat promoting interdependent sharing and living in New York City, an experimental response to increased ecological instability.

Some of these works are pretty far-out. Kay Takeda of L.M.C.C. noted of the Pier 42 installation creators, “Part of the artist’s role is to create dialogue and thinking around sustainable living systems.”

A funky pull cart from the Lower East Side Ecology Center, laden with fishing poles and related paraphernalia, contained the necessary tools for New Yorkers who wanted a really new experience, at least in the city — learning how to fish. As part of the “catch-and-release” fishing clinic, children and adults alike were provided with basic fishing instruction, and practiced casting techniques.

Victoria Booth, who is working on an ecological project to track and monitor fish populations, appreciated the offering, since she thought learning to fish should be part of her background.

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The project’s education director, Daniel Tainow, was on hand for guidance. Also, thanks to the Ecology Center’s “touch tank,” which was on location, visitors could get up close and personal with river dwellers: mud crabs, sponges and oysters.

“Paths to Pier 42” is a summer series of events at the small, temporary park and is intended to encourage use of the pier “while it awaits permanent transformation into a new public park over the next several years.”

For now, community access and enjoyment are the primary goals, giving a taste of events and activities that will take place once the location is fully redeveloped.

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Upcoming events include a mask-and-puppet theater performance about the city’s water supply, on Thurs., July 25, from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.; the GOLES SummerFest on Sat., Aug. 3, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; the “Public Space Potluck with the Design Trust for Public Space,” on Thurs., Sept. 12, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., which will give people more information about the project and how to get involved (R.S.V.P. to rsvp@designtrust.org); the Two Bridges Kite Festival, on Sat., Sept. 14, from noon to 4 p.m.; and Waterfront Community Day (the end-of-season event), on Sat., Oct. 12.

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