Thursday, June 26, 2008

Made in/of the Mist

Maybe artist Olafur Eliasson never heard TLC's mid-90s hit "Waterfalls" and their advice not to go chasing them.

Or maybe he did.

Four "New York City Waterfalls" — a more than $15 million public art project — opened in the New York harbor this morning. The waterfalls will be turned on most mornings at 7 a.m. and 35,000 gallons of river water flow/gush/pour through them each minute until 10 p.m. At night they'll be lit by light-emitting diodes.

The city is billing the waterfalls as their largest public art commission project since 2005 "Gates" in Central Park and will remain until October 13th.

In a NYT story, Eliasson is quoted as saying that New York has generally considered the center city the "prime part of the city" but in the last few decades has been "turning its face around ... and trying to create different values and recreational ideas."

Photo from the NYT slide show.

Of course, the city is hoping that — like "Gates" — the project will drive tourism. They've even created a bike route around it.

I'm not hoping for anything this grand, but I think our riverfront could really use some interesting water features. Preferably ones that would let little hands actually touch water.

(I know, Mud Island and the Main Street Mall both have water features that kids love. But we're located on the banks of the Mississippi. Do we really need to limit ourselves? And it's just so frustrating to be at Tom Lee and looking at out an incredible vista of flowing water and just feel hot and dry and very removed from the water. But I digress ...)

When "The Gates" opened, I talked to former urbanArt Commission director Carissa Hussong about temporary public art installations in Memphis. Since then, the commission's done a number of cool projects as part of its 10th birthday, but if you're interested in a look back, you can find it here.

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