Walk along the Union Street Bridge between Nevins and Bond Streets in Gowanus and you might notice a profusion of purple and red roses twining their way up the chain link fences on either side. Stop for a closer look and you’ll realize that they’re made of cloth. Pause longer and you’ll see brand logos on a few petals.
Welcome to the “Bridge of Flowers,” a public art installation created by Gowanus-based artist Carlton Scott Sturgill with support from Arts Gowanus and a grant from the city Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Art Program. The six-week installation is designed to be a light-hearted play on the themes of nature and manufacturing – two ideas that don’t often collide in this industrialized neighborhood.
“When I’m walking to my studio, I pass a lot of dumped fabric and industrial detritus,” said Sturgill of his inspiration. “When I lived in London, I loved going to English gardens and seeing patches of color here and there. I thought it would be interesting to see it grow into shirts.”
According to Abby Subak, executive director of Arts Gowanus, the Bridge of Flowers is also intended to bring art out of the artist’s studio and into the community while encouraging residents to engage with the art, through events such as the recent Gowanus Open Studios weekend.
“Gowanus Open Studios brings people into studios and we wanted to take that energy and creativity out of the studio and into the streets,” said Subak. “Scott’s piece has a sense of humor because it comments about how man-made our world is by making something natural that’s really man-made.”
The Bridge of Flowers was made possible through a grant from the DOT Arterventions program, which “works with local organizations and artists to beautify and enhance corridors,” said Emily Colasacco, urban art program manager with the DOT.
Every life must come to an end, though, and after six weeks, the Bridge of Flowers will find a semi-permanent home where Sturgill said he looks forward to “seeing [the flowers] start to deteriorate.
“Once I make something, I like for it to live its own life,” he explained.
For more information about Gowanus Open Studios and the Bridge of Flowers, visit www.ArtsGowanus.org.