WHITE PLAINS — The new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge bicycle and pedestrian path is being touted as the Highline of the Hudson Valley thanks to the monumental artworks by eight emerging New York State artists, chosen through a state-wide competitive process led by grassroots arts organizations.
“The impressive works of art installed at each terminus of the bridge’s shared use path transform this twin crossing into a compelling destination for travelers to engage with the arts,” says Janet T. Langsam, CEO of ArtsWestchester which served as administrator of the public art projects. Langsam continues, “This public art walk is an opportunity for art starved New Yorkers to enjoy new public art outdoors during the current pandemic.”
The bridge’s 3.6-mile shared use path opened June 15 and is graced on the Westchester entrance by the commanding steel arches of “Current” by Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong of Manhattan, a sculptural installation that echoes the architecture of the bridge itself and references, in the design of its base, the decommissioned Tappan Zee Bridge. The New York State Thruway Authority made Bethlehem Steel reclaimed from the Tappan Zee available to artists. The steel is both a defining aesthetic and a symbolic ode to the bridge, which served the region from 1955 to 2017. Three artists incorporate the reclaimed steel into their works.
According to Kathleen Reckling, ArtsWestchester’s Project Manager for the bridge artwork, “the collection of artworks pays homage to the past, elevates our collective progress towards the future, and celebrates the unique stories of our region.” As an example, the sculpture by Brooklyn artist Wendy Klemperer gives a nod to the mighty sturgeon that were once threatened with extinction from the river, but were saved by conservation efforts. The sculpture by Long Island City artist Ilan Averbuch, a stone canoe carried by seven abstracted figures references the Hudson Valley’s Indigenous peoples.
The vision to include public art on the pedestrian and bike path alongside the six creatively designed overlooks was seeded by ArtsWestchester, a leading proponent of creative placemaking and embraced by The New York Thruway Authority. Langsam noted, “This partnership demonstrates the power of public agencies working with grassroots arts organizations on infrastructure projects in their local communities.”
Artists commissioned for the 10 works of art include:
Wendy Klemperer, Brooklyn: Leaping Sturgeon. The 14-foot Leaping Sturgeon is made from rebar and other salvaged steel. It celebrates the population recovery efforts of this endangered species.
Ilan Averbuch, Long Island City: Tappan Zee. Tappan Zee consists of seven abstracted figures carrying a canoe alongside pedestrians and bicyclists, in a metaphorical shared journey. This sculpture pays homage to the Native American Lenape and their history along the Hudson River, while also symbolizing the value of collaboration in crossing rivers, building communities, and reaching new horizons.
Chris Soria, Nyack: The Flux of Being. Combining layers of abstract geometry with silhouettes of subjects from the natural environment, this mural celebrates the rich biodiversity of the Hudson River Valley.
Fitzhugh Karol, Brooklyn: Approach. His sculpture incorporates steel from both the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge and its predecessor, the Tappan Zee. The piece evokes a sense of uplift, progress and momentum, visually anchoring the beginning of the bridge path in Rockland County.
Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong, Brooklyn: Current. Composed of 12 illuminated steel arches, Current celebrates transformation. Referencing currents - of rivers, of light, of time - this dynamic sculpture is under continual activation. By day, its shadows and colored light refractions are ever-changing. In the evening, it creates a shared spatial experience through light animations that respond to movements of passers-by. The sculpture incorporates reclaimed steel from the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Thomas Lendvai, Ronkonkoma: Untitled, For Imre Lendvai. Slightly askew, concentric octagonal forms mimic ripples on the river’s surface and frame the iconic towers of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Made from steel reclaimed from the Tappan Zee Bridge, this sculpture is a tribute to the artist’s father.
Christopher Flick, Bronx: Converging Vistas. The dynamic form of this bike rack references the Palisades and the New York City skyline, two views that converge while crossing the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
David Greenberg, Brooklyn: Bike Racks. The design of these bike racks is informed by marine mooring bollards and alludes to the historic importance of the Hudson River as a commercial transportation artery. The oval openings accommodate the “mooring” of a bicycle, offering cyclists a rest on their cross-river journey. The design will be used in two locations on the path, one in Rockland and one in Westchester.
Monolithic granite posts recall the stone quarrying industry of Rockland County and evoke the common hitching post on another of his bike racks.
The path is expected to become a regional attraction like the High Line in Chelsea or the Walkway over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie.
To accommodate visitors from New York City, a free shuttle is running from the Metro-North Tarrytown Station 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 13.