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Abstract Metal Octopus Provides New Outdoor Seating in DUMBO

By Janet Upadhye | October 18, 2012 9:14am

DUMBO — DUMBO just became home to a few more residents. Some are two-legged, some four, and all of them abstract, made of metal, and comfy for sitting. Artist Eleanora Alper designed seats and benches in the shape of people and animals for the new plaza at Old Fulton Street near Pier 1.

Two dogs, one man, one woman, and an octopus now grace the plaza and are not only interesting to look at, but also a great place to sit, eat lunch and chat with friends with a view of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Alper has lived in DUMBO since 2004 and has designed sculptures for the Pearl Street Triangle and the lobby of her building on Jay Street. This year the DUMBO Improvement District gave her the chance to design for the new plaza, and with her love for animals, she said she knew "creatures" had to be part of the design.

"I studied animals and their anatomy for over a year to create my sculptures," she said. "But my structures are not true to form. They are abstract."

Alper added that the children in the neighborhood tend to love the sculptures, saying, "They are a great place for them to climb and hide and play."

Alper first sketches her designs, then sculpts them in cardboard. Then she works with a welder who erects them in metal.

"Metal is a fantastic material to work with," she said. "It bends, curves and will hold up forever in the outdoors."

Each creature was inspired by the real thing. Her octopus form came from the memory of a real octopus that would eat leftovers from under her dinner table during time spent in Bermuda.

Alper has also lived with poodles, cats, geese, ducks, deer, peacocks and guinea pigs.

She is currently designing new sculptures meant for playgrounds and gardens. And a surprise is in the works for DUMBO. Though not confirmed, her newest animal sculpture might have large ears and a trunk.

"I love DUMBO and it means a lot to me to have artwork displayed in the neighborhood I call home," she said.