Lower Manhattan has $30 billion of construction under way—but the effects of the temporary inconveniances that come with it can be mitigated. What if, say, construction fences were adorned with thoughtful, whimsical, art instead of dated movie posters? That was the Downtown Alliance’s idea when it began its Re:Construction project three years ago, thanks to funding from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.
“Think of Re:Construction as an intervention to create a cheerful and welcoming environment in the midst of an urban renewal,” said our President, Elizabeth H. Berger.
There have now been 15 works installed below Canal Street, seven of which are up for viewing. And the latest went up just last week. It’s called Water Movements, and it runs along Titanic Park, which will re-open in September following a $1 million renovation.
A vibrant flurry of blues, reds and lime green, the piece creates an imaginary terrain using cartography patterns. Artist Lordy Rodriguez, who has an affinity for re-arranging maps, uses this piece to explore a body of water’s ever-changing relationship to its environment. Because there are no familiar map symbols, it’s up to viewers to interpret the abstract arrangement of rivers, mountains and valleys.
“Sometimes water is still and quiet like a frozen pond, and other times it’s so ferocious whole towns can be swept away,” Rodriguez said. “Water is as influential to its environment as it is influenced by it.”
Installing a Re:Construction piece involves a groundbreaking collaboration between private building and property owners, artists, art consultants and, in the case of the Titanic park site, public entities (the Parks Department). First, the Downtown Alliance works with a handful of art consultants to pick several options for a new piece. Then, we present our picks to property owners. Once a project is chosen, the consultant arranges for installation. In this case, our consultant is independent curator Abby Messitte.
When fall arrives, a state-of-the-art park will open at Pearl and Fulton streets at the entrance to South Street Seaport. But for now, rather than a familiar drab construction fence, Water Movements will brighten the pedestrian experience.
Check out our Re:Construction page for more information on all the projects.