There's a massive sea serpent on the loose in the Rockaways with an uncanny resemblance to a subway train. This silvery gray creature snakes through an empty lot, but it comes in peace.
"Subway Sea Serpent," the latest sculpture by Zaq Landsberg and Joey Castillo is now on view indefinitely at Beach 60th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard.
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The artists were inspired by the A train, the crucial subway line that links the Rockaways to the rest of New York City. Located not far from subway station, it looks as if the artwork jumped from the elevated tracks to burrow through the ground in search of the beach. Segments of the cars peek above the grass as if the serpent's swimming through the dirt.
"This project directly addresses the Rockaways and takes a universally recognized object and twists it to put it in a new context. I specialize in art pieces that attract viewers, children, old people and everyone else," Landsberg said in a press release. He's also the artist behind the Reclining Liberty sculpture.
Considering all ages, races and backgrounds, the artists noticed how waiting for the A train with its glowing blue light offers a unifying experience for people from many walks of life. The sculpture even contains a built-in solar panel and battery, allowing the "A" to glow blue and its headlights to light up each night at sunset.
"Using the sun's own energy to power the lighting on this sculpture is not just a nod to sustainability, but a beacon for what’s possible for do-it-yourself makers," said Castillo, the technologist in residence at Cornell Tech’s People Aware Computing lab on Roosevelt Island. "Using parts from local suppliers, we were able to create a project that doesn’t simply draw power from the grid, but lights the way forward for small-scale sustainable and resilient technology."
The artists worked with Adafruit Industries, a woman-owned, New York City based electronics manufacturer to source parts for the sculpture. As for the sculpture itself, it's constructed of wood, plaster-resin and plexiglass, then coated in glimmering silver paint.
Plus, the artists plan to spice up the decor each season. For example, for Halloween, they'll replace the transit authority logo with an orange-and-black theme.
The artwork beautifies what was an overgrown and underutilized patch of land owned by the Department of Transportation. RISE, the Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability & Equity, launched a community initiative to revitalize this land. In addition to housing the new artwork, the land is also the site of community events, musical performances and a "drive-thru" farm share pickup for low- and middle-income residents.