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DOT Unveils 'Lush' Public Art on Gritty Gowanus Median

By Leslie Albrecht | February 26, 2015 8:06am
 "Greenery," a metal sculpture by artist Ruth Hofheimer, was installed on a median at Fourth Avenue and Prospect Avenue.
DOT Unveils 'Lush' Public Art on Gritty Gowanus Median
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GOWANUS — A gritty corner of Gowanus will be a little greener for the next 11 months.

The Department of Transportation this week installed "Greenery," a public art piece that will live on a wind-whipped median at Prospect and Fourth avenues until January 2016.

The steel sculpture depicts six bright green plants sprouting from the concrete median, injecting a jolt of nature into a busy intersection beneath the Gowanus Expressway.

The piece, which sits between a tire repair business and an empty lot, evokes "lush greenery" and is "intended to humanize and soften the surrounding concrete jungle," according to a DOT placard explaining the artwork.

"The [metal] material is sort of kindred to the industry along the avenue, but it's disguised by the greenery, which looks lush and light-hearted," artist Ruth Hofheimer said.

Hofheimer, who has created other public artwork including a block-long mural on Huntington Street in Gowanus, said she got positive feedback on the piece while she was installing it on Monday, including some compliments shouted from passing cars.

"People are really responding to the sense of spring during these cold brutal days of winter," Hofheimer said.

"Greenery" is part of DOT's public art program. The $5,000 work was sponsored by Arts Gowanus, a nonprofit group that's also working with City Councilman Brad Lander to install several pieces of public art on neighborhood streets this summer.

Hofheimer, DOT and Arts Gowanus brainstormed various locations for "Greenery," and chose Fourth and Prospect avenues in part because cars, pedestrians and subway riders headed to the Prospect Avenue R train stop all converge there.

Hofheimer grew up on Fifth Avenue and Lincoln Place and went to elementary school at P.S. 282. She said she was glad to brighten a corner of her home neighborhood.

"Public art can be a surprise," Hofheimer said. "I like that people will encounter this without intending to. It might be a place they pass every day, but they'll engage with it in a new way."