Sunday, June 15, 2014

Not Just for Refined Tastes

Roar! I know I often write about sweet art but this time the art isn't just sweet to look at but also to taste! Turns out Creativetime is presenting an amazing new sculpture series by Kara Walker that's housed in the old Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg! This will probably be the last chance I get to go inside the factory before it's razed and turned into condos so I decided to head on over to the Williamsburg waterfront to check it out! Roar! 
Roar! Here I am outside of the Domino Sugar Refinery. Look at this huge line of people waiting to see the Kara Walker Domino! Give me a break! Turns out the line moves really fast and it didn't take more than half an hour for me to get inside. That is also pretty sweet! Roar!
Oh Henry! Kara Walker has sculpted a giant sugar sphinx in the center of the refinery! The full title of the installation is "A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant."  Woah! That is one serious title, though I've got to say there really isn't anything subtle about this installation. Roar! 
This pictures bound to get a few Snickers.  What can I say? I like, this, art, and I can not lie... this is incredible! I feel like I've hit PayDay at the Domino refinery, not only do I get to see this amazing art but I also get to check out the factory I've long admired from the Williamsburg bridge! Roar! 
There are a ton of other smaller sculptures through out the refinery. Everything is made of sugar and it's melting the whole time the show is up. I hope as this guy's arm melts he doesn't get butterfingers and drop what he's carrying! Roar! 
Here are a bunch of photos of the decaying interior of the refinery. Things are so decrepit in here, I can't help but think it's a long way from 5th Ave! Roar! 
There is also a bunch of old machinery in the refinery, this is, it's, it's a, you know... Whatchamacallit? Oh I forget! Roar! 
There is a lot of other stuff that's messed up in the refinery. Here you can see all the walls that have begun to Krackle. No wonder they are tearing this place down it would cost more than a 100 Grand to fix this place up! Roar! 
Here are a couple detail shots of some crumbling stairs and pipes and rotting insulation. Despite all of this decay it really is a great location to host an art installation. Kudos to Creativetime for organizing it. Roar!
Here you can see the sugar from the sculptures melting and dripping all over the floors. It certainly added to the ambiance of the place. I must say Kara Walker certainly hit a Grand Slam with this show! In an interview she said this was some of the most fun she's had making art and it shows in the work! Roar!
The looming Domino refinery will soon be no more. A Subtlety is a great piece of commentary on the dark aspects of the history of sugar and presents plenty of ideas that a person probably wouldn't think about when staring at this building while biking over the bridge. It's also a fitting send off to a building with it's own rich history that's become something of a Brooklyn icon. The show is up until July 6th so if you have time come down to the sugar refinery and Take 5 with some sweet art. Roar! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Out in the Styx: Visiting the Staten Island Ferry Graveyard

Roar! Earlier this spring I decided to go on an odyssey to the land of the dead... Dead boats that is! It turns out on Staten Island there is a marine salvage yard where a number of old ferries, tugs, and barges from NYC's past have been scuttled. Just check out what this area looks like from space! Crazy!
The marine salvage yard isn't open to the public but the northern edge extends past the docks so it looked like I'd just be able to barge right in! I decided it was time to let Charon ferry me across the NY harbor so I could pay a visit to the land of the dead! Roar!
Turns out that analogy was more accurate than I realized! Right next to the northern part of the salvage yard there is actually an old Huguenot cemetery from 1700's called Blazing Star Burial Ground. It sure is spooky, I hope I don't run into Charley Boos! Roar! 
Here you can see the northern edge of the ferry graveyard beyond the marsh behind the graveyard! 
Here are a few pictures of the Ferry Graveyard across the marsh. Getting there was going to be quite a challenge! I had planned my visit to coincide with low tide, so I put some hefty trash bags around my feet and lightly stomped across the marshland! Roar! 
There are a ton of historic ships interred in the ferry graveyard. There are couple from World War II including one ship that took part in D-Day and the USS Mason, the first submarine to have an all black crew! In the back of this picture you can see one of the fireboats that responded to the General Slocum wreck in 1904! Roar!
After crossing the muddy marsh I emerged into a half sunken barge and climbed up onto the rusty hulks of dead ships. 
Here we have a look at the full salvage yard to the south. I don't want to head down there or the keepers of the dead might get me! Roar! 
Some of the scuttled ships in the salvage yard are so old that they have trees and bushes growing off of them! Talk about crazy! It makes me think of a post-apocalyptic future where all these barges have been turned into farm land once sea waters rise. Some one should make a movie about that... Roar! 
Some graffiti artists have also made it out to the ferry graveyard! Here's a cool piece that must have been done years ago, just look how it's faded with time. Roar! 
Besides all the ferries, tugs, and barges there were a number of life boats and dingys that had been piled up on top of all the other ships! There are so many ships here that are just falling apart. Talk about rest in pieces! Roar! 

Here I am hanging out on one of the old barges. This place sure is crazy. Turns out there used to be another salvage yard on the eastern shore of Staten Island that had old 19th century schooners scuttled along the entrance to the harbor. They were all removed when construction began on the Verrazano Narrows bridge. Next time you drive across the bridge be sure to watch out for ghost-ships! Roar! 
I guess I'm not the only person who has come to check out the Ferry Graveyard! Seems like a great place to take a date? Roar! 
Before heading home I decided to leave my mark on one of the barges. We'll see how this wears with time. The Ferry Graveyard might be a real trek to get to but it's a rare sight in a city that seems obsessed with eradicating its way spaces. I wonder how long the graveyard will remain? Roar!