Bridging Art

Sitting in traffic on the old Tappan Zee Bridge, as they built two new bridges to replace it, I thought about all the artists I've interviewed over the years and what sort of muse the bridge might make.

 

I commissioned them to spend the summer creating bridge-inspired works, which were presented in the pages of The Journal News and at "Bridging Art," an arts salon in September 2017.

Tony-winning composer Rupert Holmes wrote a song, as did local songwriters Neil Berg and K.J. Denhert. Dan Masterson, Rockland's poet laureate, shared his 9/11-inspired poem, which begins in Nyack. Four writers from the Hudson Valley Writers' Center contributed essays. Leah Hager Cohen, an accomplished novelist-journalist and daughter of Nyack who now teaches at Holy Cross, sent a prose poem.

Caldecott-winning illustrator Jerry Pinkney combined his love of the new bridge and his fascination with red-tailed hawks into a grid-based watercolor. Local printmaker Jeff White showed a remarkable accordion book.

Students from Coupe Theater Studio performed an original dance that bridged two styles.

Kris Burns, a local artist and event planner, created a site-specific projection, using photos from The Journal News staff.

 

She also created a bridge-inspired drink, a shrub to be specific, to accompany bridge-focused nibbles from Halo & Horns Kitchen. Nyack chef Matt Hudson shared a massive photograph-on-canvas of the old Tappan Zee, along with some cookies. And Nyack patisserie owner Didier Dumas created a cake that took the shape of the new bridge.

Songs, dance, visual arts, food, drink, photography, poetry and prose combined to prove that bridges have the power to inspire.

Rupert Holmes,
Tony-winning composer

I can only imagine how much work, sweat and pressure you've had to deal with, and the atmosphere in the room came as close to defining 'community' as anything I've ever been a part of.

Jerry Pinkney,

Caldecott Medal winner

What a extraordinary night, not only all of us lending our talents to celebrate our new  bridge, but also to highlight the collaborative nature of the arts. We could all use more of this kind of coming together. Good job, my friend!

Dan Masterson,

Rockland poet laureate

The talent was terrific and everyone there was as friendly as can be. You served us all up to your gracious audience with welcoming calm and smiles. We'll be talking about those hours, that flew by, for a long, long time.

© 2019 Peter D. Kramer