by Kathleen Reckling, Deputy Director of Public Programs, ArtsWestchester
For many, the term “public art” is synonymous with murals or sculptures. But sometimes it is less obvious. Bus stops, benches and bike racks all offer opportunities for artists to rethink objects that function in our daily experience with public spaces. The Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge’s public art collection is unique because it includes functional as well as experiential works. In addition to sculptures and a mural, artist-designed bike racks offer a creativity-infused spot for cyclists to rest their weary wheels after traversing the newly opened 3.6 mile shared use path.
As part of a statewide call to artists, sculptors and designers were invited to submit proposals for unique bike racks that would be placed at key locations of the Westchester and Rockland landings of the path. Bronx resident Christopher Flick was one of the artists awarded a commission through the competitive selection process that was conducted through a partnership between ArtsWestchester and New York State Thruway Authority, and in collaboration with Arts Council of Rockland. His sculptural bike rack, Converging Vistas, a line drawing rendered in hand-buffed steel, is now situated on the Westchester terminus of the bridge.
The work was thoughtfully and diligently crafted in the basement of his apartment building, which was converted into a studio. There, he creates his works, transforming abandoned street signs into a child’s reading seat; converting discarded phone booths into arm chairs. The items are as comfortable as they are artful, as Flick frequently blends utility with whimsy.
As a welder for the MTA, he is acutely aware of the symbolic and functional role of infrastructure systems. Bridges, tunnels and train lines get people from point A to point B, but they also represent the exchange of ideas, shifting landscapes, homecomings and voyages. The valleys and peaks of Converging Vistas reference the urban skyline of Manhattan, with the Palisades cliffs to the south and the mountains and hills to the north. It is a work of art that offers a place for respite and reflection on journeys ahead.
A version of this article first appeared in the August issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNewsis distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.