Welcome to a new feature of my blog: Weekend Observations. Since my weekends tend to focus on family and personal obligations, my perspectives on beauty may go in different directions. Hope you enjoy them!
In typical Sunday fashion, my husband, Marc, and I throw the kids into the back of the car and go food shopping. Some typical destinations are Costco in Spanish Harlem and Fairway, a large supermarket on the upper west side of Manhattan. On our way back from Fairway, we took the West Side Highway, which runs parallel to the Hudson River. Until recently, a 20 block stretch along the river was under construction. Now that it’s refurbished, we were focusing on the new view on our ride home. We noticed that every few feet along a particular part of the river now stand sculptures made of raw wood branches. In fact, my kids first thought they were just piles of fallen tree remains. But that’s the genius of them. Somebody took great pains to create unusual, beautiful sculptures that both blend in with and stand out from the environment.
This wasn’t the first time I had seen them. A few weeks ago I went running along the river in an attempt to get “bikini ready” (given my klutzy nature, I ended up totally wiping out and getting a huge gash on my knee…oh well, bikini ready for Ripley from “Aliens”). Somewhere between 95th and 125th streets I saw these unusual art forms. I, too, was confused as to what they were until I saw many more along the path. Though I was suffering on one level (no shade along the path, the wipeout, and, let’s face it, running is hard for us mortals), I was also inspired. The simplicity of the sculptures contrasted sharply with the highway scene on the other side of the jogging path. They looked almost prehistoric. The fact that the city developed a boardwalk along the river was beautiful enough, but then to add these unique sculptures was amazing. It gave me more pep in my step, which made it possible for me to jog the rest of the way home.
Ancient civilizations understood the power of beauty — think Stonehenge, hieroglyphics, the pyramids, etc. Beauty is both primal and progressive, spiritual and concrete. Even if it means that we witness beauty through the windows of a speeding car on the West Side Highway, I’m grateful that my city values my family and me enough to offer us a few minutes of inspiration.