Rockaway Waterfront Alliance Sculpture Unveiled On Beach 30
Last Saturday, local residents and friends gathered for Ethan Long's official unveiling of his sculpture titled," Digital Dirt Processor 2.0." The eight-foot earth sculpture sits along the open stretch of beach at Beach 30 Street and is one of the first times that area has been used for public art.
The sculpture, which was commissioned by the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, was done as part of the organization's mission to utilize the public waterfront for the greater good of the community and was supported through a grant from the Queens Council for the Arts.
The sculpture took the past two months to construct on the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation site and required the help of many local residents for the heavy labor involved in compressing dirt into this sculpture.
During the two month process, Long met with Jo Anne Ellis' art classes from PS 43 to teach them about the process required to build the piece and discussed public art and the purposes behind it.
The sculpture, which sits in an open stretch of land, drew the attention of many of the local kids and community members, with many keeping a careful eye to protect the piece. They regularly came to speak with Long about the work he and a crew of three did to complete the piece while enduring extreme conditions of sun, wind and rain. Surprisingly the police were the ones who were most curious about the piece. At times they watched Long and the crew for hours to figure out what they were building. "What is it?" they would ask. When Long would tell them art, they couldn't fathom putting a sculpture outside for the public to enjoy.
This is not the first time Ethan Long has done public art in Rockaway. Just last year he worked with RWA on the "Beach Tree Project" which also served in this area to recycle disposed-of wood from boardwalk repairs. He led numerous workshops with PS 43 students to construct the piece.
"Digital Dirt Processor 2.0" has small LED lights in it that glow at night and, as Long described it, would allow the sculpture to "appear to be communicating with the planes and buoys, as if it were a computer that had come up out of the earth." This was the second time the piece has been done. Long had first constructed the installation for Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City in 2004.
A number of kids with skate boards passed by the reception for the unveiling and told Ethan how they had watched and waited for the piece to be completed. One kid asked why he had constructed the sculpture and Long replied, "As an artist I did it for you and the public to enjoy." The youth replied, "Wow, that's cool. Thank you."
The sculpture will be up throughout the summer and until November, off the boardwalk at Beach 30 Street.