Streams

Riding the Current with Artist Marie Lorenz

Thursday, June 10, 2010 - 05:17 PM

WNYC
For half a dozen years, New York-based artist Marie Lorenz has explored our area's waterways in one of her hand-crafted vessels. WNYC joined her for an outing. (Carolina A. Miranda)

New York is a city of islands, irregular masses of land that straddle rivers, creeks and bays. Yet, other than a minority of folks who regularly ride one of the few ferry systems, we are a culture that is tethered to the land, traveling along subways and roads that pass over and under the water. We admire it from the safety of a vast assortment of waterfront parks—but rarely engage with it directly. And, rarer still, in a watercraft that doesn't have engines.

Which is why I was curious to join artist Marie Lorenz for one of her regular pilgrimages around the area's waterways in one her handcrafted rowboats. As part of a six-year project called the Tide and Current Taxi, the low-key Lorenz regularly takes guests—artists, boaters, random New Yorkers who find her through her website—on waterborne excursions around the City. So, very early one Sunday morning, my WNYC colleague Jennifer Hsu and I joined her for a paddle through the Dutch Kills, a narrow tidal flat north of Randall's Island that is only navigable during high tide—and, even then, only in small, shallow craft.

The experience was revelatory. I've been paddling in the Everglades and Costa Rica, but never in New York. As is to be expected, the urban scenery (and its attendant smells) can be less than idyllic. During our two-and-a-half hour journey, we rowed under bridges, through the murky water along a treatment plant, and admired floating detritus. But we also spotted cormorants hanging out on pilings, two families of geese with goslings and a fluttering monarch butterfly. For part of our route, we were accompanied by a quacking mallard—with Bronx garbage freights and public housing projects as a backdrop. It was surreal.

It can be easy to think we know our city. But this short excursion made me realize how little I understand New York's landscape—and how visceral it is to see its industrial guts fringed at the edges by nature. Lorenz told us that she often hears people talk about how they travel upstate or to places like Florida to "get away." Yet they often forget, she says, that we have a pretty big backyard—all within the confines of our city.

Learn more about Lorenz's art-boat projects on her website. Plus, see an earlier WNYC report from her recent solo show at in Manhattan.

 

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Comments [1]

Rosa Lowinger from Miami, FL

Beautiful ride, beautiful video of the always eloquent and thoughtful Marie Lorenz.

Jun. 15 2010 08:28 AM

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About Gallerina

Carolina A. Miranda is a regular contributor to WNYC and blogs about the arts for the station as "Gallerina." In addition to that, she contributes articles on culture, travel and the arts to a variety of national and regional media, including Time, ArtNews, Travel + Leisure and Budget Travel and Florida Travel + Life. She has reported on the burgeoning industry of skatepark design, architectural pedagogy in Southern California, the presence of street art in museums and Lima's burgeoning food scene, among many other subjects. In 2008, she was named one of eight fellows in the USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program for her arts and architecture blog C-Monster.net, which has received mentions in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. In January of 2010, the Times named her one of nine people to follow on Twitter. Got a tip? E-mail her at c [@] c-monster [dot] net

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