By Annabelle Allen–
The new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, the largest infrastructure project in the nation, now has another claim to fame as the Highline of the Hudson Valley. At 3.6 miles long, the bicycle and pedestrian path is home to the largest permanent public art installation in the New York Metro Area. On July 12th, ArtsWestchester launched their installation, celebrating the artists and their 10 major new artworks along the bridge.
It was the vision of ArtsWestchester to include public art on the bridge’s pedestrian and bike path. Through a competitive application process that vetted more than 100 applicants, eight artists were selected to receive commissions. The artwork is free and available to all visitors to the bridge.
“ArtsWestchester believes in public art. Not everyone feels welcomed to go into a museum or a theater and not everybody has the price of admission,” stated Janet T. Langsam, CEO of Arts Westchester. “The idea of public art is to make it available to everyone, and that’s what we have been trying to do in Westchester for a long time,”.
For more than 50 years, ArtsWestchester has been a resource for the community to connect with the arts. Founded in 1965, it is the largest, private, non-for-profit arts council in New York State. ArtsWestchester partnered with the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) and the Arts Council of Rockland to complete the project. “This was a unique partnership between a not-for-profit local art council and a big state agency,” said Langsam, referring to the Throughway Authority, a corporation responsible for maintaining and operating the New York State Thruway.
The NYSTA offered artists reclaimed steel from the old Tappan Zee Bridge. The steel is a symbolic ode to the old bridge, which many in the region were sad to see go as it served the area from 1955 to 2017. Three of the 10 commissioned artists incorporated steel from the old bridge in their work.
Among those three is Thomas Lendvai, from Ronkonkoma, NY. Lendvai’s sculpture, called “Untitled, For Irme Lendvai,” is made from steel reclaimed from the old bridge and is a tribute to the artist’s father who worked on the construction of the Tappan Zee. The sculpture is located at the beginning of the footpath on the Westchester side; its concentric octagonal forms frame the iconic bridge up ahead.
Christopher Flick, another artist whose work is displayed on the bridge, has been welding for the MTA for a living for 10 years and laughed when he said it’s just a hobby. The Bronx artist’s sculpture, “Converging Vistas,” references both the Palisades and the New York City skylines, two views that converge for those crossing the bridge. When Flick was younger, he would leave the city to camp in the mountains, and the bridge always served as a mental marker for him, symbolizing progress in his life and how far he has come.
The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge was designed and constructed to last 100 years without major structural maintenance. According to the project’s site, the bridge carries 140,000 vehicles daily. According to Langsam, the pedestrian path has been seeing 1,000 passengers a day. “Bridges are not destinations, they’re crossings,” remarked Langsam. “But this bridge is very unique. It is unique because it is also a destination.”
Photos by Dean Gallea for The Hudson Independent