PHYLLIS ODESSEY

360 degrees

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The Scramble constructed of reclaimed granite seawall blocks

I have long legs.  Climbing up blocks of uneven stones that are two to four times the height of a normal step is not that difficult for me.  The Scramble, one of The Hills designed by West 8, rising 70 feet above Governors Island is a challenge.  I was reminded of what it felt like to climb the “steps” at Uxmal in Mexico.  I wondered how the  Mayans managed to scamper to the top, when I was having trouble on a much less problematic ascent.

It’s hard to criticize any green space in New York City, there are so few in proportion to the population.  An addition of ten acres of public space can only be characterized as fantastic.

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One of the series of steps at Uxmal, Mexico.

A heat index of 103 degrees at The Hills on Monday, July 25th, certainly influenced my feelings about this new park. With sweat pouring down my hands, it was hard to take a photo with the iPhone.  We are in the middle of a drought in the Apple. It’s a miracle that any of the 860 trees and 41,000 shrubs in this urban space are green.

tree

A friend looked at the landscape and commented: it feels like the dunes.  The current heat wave as created a landscape where the most abundant color is straw.  This gives The Hills a different feel from what I imagine the designers intended.

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white outline

I dont understand the white poured concrete outlines around the hills.  For me the white rim around the hills is an obstacle, kind of like the white lines on a highway, they stop the eye.

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Slide Hill – the 36 ft. long slide

For me the most successful of The Hills is known as Slide Hill.  Even in sweltering heat, these slides were irresistible.  Adult or child, no one could refrain climbing to the top and slithering down at least one of four slides.  And once was not enough.  Everyone took plunge at least twice.

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British artist, Rachel Whiteread’s The Cabin on Discovery Hill

The Cabin by British artist Rachel Whiteread is cast concrete reverse of a wooden shed.  “I was really thinking about Thoreau and the American Romantics, as well as the opposite of that – the grimmer, darker underbelly of America and the idea that some lonely person might live in a different way.” Rachel Whiteread.

The Cabin is totally unexpected and out of place and that’s why I liked it.  Surrounding the cabin are small cast bronzes of the found objects, from Governors Island.

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small cast bronze objects of debris surrounding The Cabin

I work in a public park and we are always finding debris, both old and new.  It’s a chore to constantly be cleaning up around our gardens.  Whitbread’s idea of memorializing these pieces of rubbish have inspired me to see my world of litter in a new way.

 

 

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