Friday, July 14, 2023

"Double Take" Mosaic By Artist Diana Cooper Unveiled At MTA's Roosevelt Island East River Ventilation Shaft Last Week - Was Worth The 10 Year Wait Says RIHS President Judy Berdy Who Advocated For The Public Art Project Instead Of A Brick Wall

On Wednesday July 6, the plywood wall was removed from the front of the MTA's East River Ventilation shaft across from the Roosevelt Island F Train subway station to unveil the Double Take mosaic by artist Diana Cooper.

According to Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS) President Judy Berdy:



The story starts in February, 2013 when the RIHS asked RIOC to find a better design for the wall outside the vent shaft building across from our subway station.

When at a RIOC Operations Committe meeting I learned of the project and that a brick wall was the idea planned for the wall. The RIOC Operations Committee approved the idea and informed New York Transit.

Little did I know this would be a 10 year odyssey.

The first step was for architects to come and examine the site. They arrived by subway and commented on the ugly site of the vent shaft building obstructing the Manhattan skyline.

A time later MTA Arts for Transit (now MTA Art & Design) held a meeting with a committee of professional including curators, artists, political representatives and staff to select a group of artists to be asked to submit designs. After reviewing the work of about 25 artists the group was down to five candidates.

After submissions by three artists (two were not available) Diana Cooper was chosen.

This was just the beginning of the project that suffered from many delays....

 Click here for full RIHS article.

Ms Berdy adds: 

We are thrilled that when you emerge from the subway your vista will include this vibrant mosaic mural. It has been a long time coming but definitely worth the wait.

Next month Diana Cooper will be here to see her mural installed. A celebration will take place very soon.

In the meantime enjoy the longest artpiece on the island 96 feet long and 8 feet high.

Image from Roosevelt Island Historical Society
In May 2022 I spoke with Double Take mosaic artist Diana Cooper

and Ms Berdy who describe the 10 year effort to create and install the Double Take mosaic.


According to this July 11 MTA Press release:

MTA Arts & Design today announced the installation of a new permanent artwork on Roosevelt Island by Diana Cooper, Double Take. It is located across from the F train subway stop and is part of the East Side Access project that brought Long Island Rail Road service to Grand Central Madison.

Cooper was initially inspired by the visual experience of traveling through the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel and moving from an artificial underground environment into a world of steel, glass, and stone in Manhattan, with buildings set at different angles and punctuated by blue skies and waterways and the greens and browns of New Jersey.

When she visited the MTA site, Cooper was struck by how similar her experience was to the one subway riders have when they arrive on Roosevelt Island. Riders leave the reflected light of the subway tunnel to scale long metallic escalators and emerge into a building with large glass windows and views of the island greenery and the blue of the East River.

Cooper’s designs consider the geometric forms found in the ventilation building, the Queensboro Bridge, the MTA subway station, Louis Kahn’s FDR Memorial, and the Roosevelt Island Tram, set against the grand backdrop of the East River. The wall designs marry abstract geometric shapes with organic forms, based on photographs she took of the river, as well as hand drawn imagery of fluid forms with colors that evoke the Island’s grass and trees. The gate design refers directly to the building’s louvers but is more colorful, playful, and permeable. Her hope is that people will feel transported smoothly and delightfully from the canyons of the MTA to an island surrounded by a river, with mountains of skyscrapers as backdrop.

“Upon arriving or departing, Roosevelt Islanders and visitors are greeted by Diana Cooper’s colorful mosaic and metal artwork,” said Sandra Bloodworth, Director, MTA Arts & Design. “It is quite exciting to see the realization of Double Take — and it will do just that, stop you in your tracks for a double take! One that will make you say, wow.”

Diana Cooper explained, “On first visiting the site I was struck by its visual potential. One emerges from the subway to see sky, a bridge, water, a ventilation structure, and Manhattan behind it all. That’s quite a mix. I wanted to pull all these elements together and somehow capture in a single work the dynamic energy latent in the experience. My aim was to blend the rigid geometric elements with fluid color to capture the play of light on the water especially. It was an exciting project that opened up new avenues in my artistic practice.”

About Diana Cooper

Diana Cooper is a New York-based mixed-media artist whose abstract works are inspired by patterns found in nature and the artificial human environment, which she transforms and translates into her own visual language. A former Rome Prize fellow (2004), Cooper has exhibited at numerous galleries and institutions, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, PS 1/MOMA, the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art. She has completed several public commissions, including at the Jerome Parker Campus, Staten Island, commissioned by NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Public Art for Public Schools and at the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech. She holds a BA from Harvard and an MFA from Hunter College.

About MTA Arts & Design

MTA Arts & Design encourages the use of public transportation by providing visual and performing arts in the metropolitan New York area. The Percent for Art program is one of the largest and most diverse collections of site-specific public art in the world, with more than 350 commissions by world-famous, mid-career and emerging artists. Arts & Design produces Graphic Arts, Digital Art, photographic Lightbox exhibitions, as well as live musical performances in stations through its Music Under New York (MUSIC) program, and the Poetry in Motion program in collaboration with the Poetry Society of America. It serves the millions of people who rely upon MTA subways and commuter trains and strives to create meaningful connections between sites, neighborhoods, and people.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

16th Annual Waterfront Alliance City Of Water Day NY And NJ Celebrations Saturday July 15 - You're Invited To Celebrate Nature Of Water At Roosevelt Island FDR 4 Freedoms Park With Water Games, Marine Life Learning, Dance Performance & More

According to the Waterfront Alliance: 

Now in its 16th year, City of Water Day — taking place this year on Saturday, July 15 — is a region-wide day organized by Waterfront Alliance and New York–New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP), to champion a climate-resilient New York and New Jersey harbor.

Dozens of communities across all five boroughs, Westchester and Rockland counties, and New Jersey will host events on and near the water that celebrate the importance of a resilient and equitably shared waterfront. From free kayaking to rowing to hands-on workshops, these events offer community members opportunities for fun, education, and access to their local waterfront.

This year’s theme is to expand the capacity of New York and New Jersey communities to address climate change— in particular communities that are disadvantaged or underserved. City of Water Day will feature stewardship organizations that are raising awareness about the risk we all face from sea level rise and climate change, and explore ways we can build the adaptive capacity of our ecosystems and communities....

 Roosevelt Island City of Water activities will take place at the FDR 4 Freedoms Park State Park.

Roosevelt Island resident and iDig2Learn Founder Christina Delfico reports:

FREE - City of Water Day

Saturday, July 15th

11am to 4pm

FDR Four Freedoms State Park

Water is life. Water is Powerful.

Come Celebrate City of Water Day on Roosevelt Island.

Join iDig2Learn & FDR Four Freedoms State Park to celebrate the Nature of Water at the park on Roosevelt Island’s Southernmost tip! Enjoy the Park’s water views Saturday, July 15th from 11am to 4pm with activities for all ages. Meet new friends from NYC H2O to play the Aqueduct Challenge and experience the marvelous path of water from mountains to the City - they can even tell you about the local reservoirs. 

Learn about local whales, dolphins, oysters and marine life and tips to conserve water, our most precious resource. NYPL friends will be on hand and come enjoy a 2pm dance performance - Water is Life - by dancer Chris Bisram. 

No RSVP just swing by the park anytime between 11am and 4pm. Rain date is 7/16 Sunday.

Other City Of Water Day activities include :

More on the Waterfront Alliance


and City Of Water Day info here.

At last year's City Of Water Day, the Waterfront Alliance conducted Roosevelt Island East River shoreline water quality tests.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Very Strange Looking East River Oyster Toadfish Caught By Roosevelt Island Fisherman At Subway Pier - Take A Look

Say hello to the Roosevelt Island East River Oyster Toadfish

Image From Goutam Chakraborty

caught yesterday by a fisherman at the Subway Pier (AKA Eleanor's Pier).

According to  Goutam Chakraborty:

Oyster Toadfish: today in Roosevelt Island, not an endangered species and this fish released to the East River. Another fellow fisherman captured it in front of RI subway station; Eleanor's Pier. We released this fish immediately after capturing some photos.

Here's more info on the very strange looking Oyster Toadfish.

According to Gothamist Meet The Fish Of The East River article:

... New York’s hottest fish is the Oyster Toadfish. Ok, maybe not. While some people do consume Oyster Toadfish (again, don’t), they are usually discarded because of their appearance.

“They call them bait stealers,” Cohen said.

“I’ve actually seen their dead carcasses on the side of the East River because people consider them not worthy of keeping and eating. It’s really kind of sad because they just kill this fish because it decided to eat their clam [bait].”

Oyster toadfish can grow to about a foot long and are found in salt and brackish waters, preferring areas with sandy, muddy bottoms, oyster reefs, shoal water, eelgrass beds or in hollows and dens. They are quite capable of living in polluted waters and have been known to find shelter in submerged tires and cans.

Oyster toadfish rely on camouflage to catch their food, usually preying on crustaceans, mollusks, amphipods, squid, and other smaller fish. Males make a distinctive foghorn sound to attract females in the April to October mating season....

Reported earlier this month on a very large East River striped bass caught by a fisherman on the Roosevelt Island Subway Pier.

Roosevelt Island Seniors Association (RISA) President Andrea Jackson adds:

That was a great story about the striped sea bass caught on Roosevelt Island. 

It reminded me of my experience back on May 19, 2011. I was taking a daily walk through Lighthouse Park, where I encountered 3 fishermen fishing. We struck up a conversation and they shared with me the fish story of the day. They hauled in a tremendous catch of 3 striped sea bass. 

Amazing as the story was, I had the privilege of seeing the the catch up close as we joked and laughed, and took some amazing pictures. 

Needless to say they made my walk an eventful one. I am so pleased to see it here enjoying the Good Life on Roosevelt island.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Roosevelt Island Public Safety Blotter Reports Sexual Assault And Robbery Incidents Last Week - Also, Why Was Food Delivery Driver Arrested Last Night Asks A Resident?

This morning, I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Department Chief Kevin Brown and Assistant Vice President of Communications Akeem Jamal:
The July 8 Public Safety Incident report lists:

07/08/23 – 0451 – 400 Main St – Robbery – PSD and NYPD responded – Gone on arrival/ Report filed.

07/08/23 – 1117 – 400 Main St – Sexual Assault – PSD responded – Arrest made by PSD.

The July 7 PSD Incident report lists:

07/07/23 – 1824 – 400 Main St – Robbery – PSD and NYPD responded – Gone on arrival and refer to NYPD.

Please provide details as to what happened regarding these incidents.

Also, last evening about 9:15 PM witnesses observed a Food Delivery worker being arrested by PSD on Main Street across from 520 Main Street. According to the witnesses, it was unclear why the Delivery Worker was being arrested as he was receiving a parking summons.

However the July 10 PSD Daily Report does not show any indication of an arrest at that time and place.  It does show a towed vehicle in the area an hour later.

07/10/23 – 2229 – 510 Main Street – Towed Vehicle – PSD responded – Towed.

What happened with the Food Delivery Worker last night? Was he arrested and why?

I plan on publishing a story on these incidents later today. Please let me know if there will be any comment from RIOC.

Thank you.
A Roosevelt Island resident who witnessed arrest of the food delivery driver last night
shares this video.
According to the Public Safety Officer, the food delivery driver was illegally parked and:
... smacked my hand while I was writing the summons. That's why he was arrested...
The witness reports:
A friend of mine and I just watched a food delivery driver get arrested for running food up to an apartment. He had his hazards on and was upset upon getting a ticket on his return. It seemed totally uncalled for and insane to witness.

We watched the whole thing and don’t see a smack or any kind of contact at all. We were across the street just leaving Island Om, so not the best vantage point but still. He was upset and pleading with the officer that the ticket would cut into his earnings, it was very sad. Once we saw him being arrested, we couldn’t believe it and started taking pictures and filming. 

The arrest itself—and the 4 or 5 officers that showed up, seemed excessive. He did not resist but I truly believe if he hit the officer’s notepad, it was by mistake as he threw his arms up in exasperation, if anything. Just disturbing, the whole thing felt wrong. 

There has been no response from RIOC as of 8:40 pm.

Roosevelt Island 2023 Outdoor Movie Series At Southpoint Park Returns July 14 With Showing Of Super Pets - Fantastic View, Music, Movie Trivia And More

The Roosevelt Island 2023 Summer Outdoor Movie series at Southpoint Park begins this Friday July14 with the showing of

Super Pets.

The Roosevelt Island 2023 Summer Outdoor Movie Series at Southpoint Park continues with; 

7/21 - Family Camp,

7/28 - Minions: The Rise of Gru,

8/4 - Lightyear,

and 8/11 - A League Of Their Own.

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC)

Dear Roosevelt Island Community:

Our Summer Movie Series at Southpoint Park kicks off with “Super Pets” this Friday, July 14th. Music, movie trivia and more begins at 6PM, while the film itself will begin at sunset (don't forget to bring your blankets and lawn chairs!).

The next film following "Super Pets" will be "Family Camp" on Friday, July 21st. Closed captioning will be available for all films.

We hope to see you this Friday!

-Team RIOC

Update 9 PM - At 6 PM this evening RIOC announced:

Dear Roosevelt Island Community:

Unfortunately, the current forecast for this Friday calls for rain and possible thunderstorms. As a result, we have postponed this Friday’s Summer Movie Series showing of “Super Pets” to Friday, August 18th. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Our Summer Movie Series at Southpoint Park will now kick-off with “Family Camp” on Friday, July 21st. Closed captioning will be available for all films.

We look forward to seeing everyone on July 21st!

-Team RIOC

Monday, July 10, 2023

Channel 11 PIX News Visits Roosevelt Island, Explores The Sites And Speaks To Residents, Watch The Video