OPENING: Thursday, April 7, 2016

Superfine, 126 Front Street, Brooklyn  6p-8pm

On view March 27 - May 1

More information and RSVPs here

Since 19th century bulkheads first hemmed in the tidal creek, the 1.8 miles of the Gowanus Canal has inspired superlatives. Once among the busiest commercial canals in the country, it is now the most polluted, with a century and half of coal tar and oil leaks compounded by runoff and sewage overflows. Like many others I was drawn to the canal’s open sky, to the brush and broken buildings, and to the last scows and tugs still engaged in creek work. The canal has an increasingly rare roughness around the edges. With Superfund designation and coming remediation those edges will soon be further smoothed by landscaping and redevelopment.

Amid these changes, talk persists of a Brooklyn Riviera, or a Little Venice, often with an undertone of mockery. But there is in fact already something Mediterranean about the canal’s abundant light and faded colors. Not the chemical blooms that inspired the nickname Lavender Lake, but the faded blue barges beside melon-green fuel tanks, ochre bollards, shipping containers arrayed like paint chips, and sand scows lit red as the sun sets on Gowanus Bay.

This pigmented cityscape is a worn one: old bulkheads of rotting timber, steel, and shot rock, foothills of sand below the rusted green range of the expressway, bald tires abandoned or returned to grudging service as fenders, a moldering grain elevator obsolete since the governor cut the ribbon, and other forms of corrugation and ruin, in the shadow of a subway forced above ground by forgotten marshes. This mix of beauty and ruin, sunlight and rust, is the subject of the series.

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