Daz­zled by a Fire­boat

Soundings - - Dispatches - — Pim Van Hem­men

Dur­ing World War I, Bri­tish pain­ter Nor­man Wilkin­son de­signed bold, high-con­trast paint pat­terns to cam­ou­flage Al­lied ships and con­fuse en­emy sub­marines. Now, a sim­i­lar paint scheme has turned a re­tired New York City fire­boat into a float­ing art project that was cre­ated to com­mem­o­rate the end of the World War I cen­ten­nial on Novem­ber 11, 2018.

Two pub­lic arts groups, Pub­lic Art Fund and 14-18 NOW, funded “Flow Sep­a­ra­tion,” an ex­hi­bi­tion by New York-based artist Tauba Auer­bach. In­spired by Wilkin­son, Auer­bach painted the 1931 fire­boat John J. Har­vey in a con­tem­po­rary “daz­zle cam­ou­flage” pat­tern. Ak­zoNo­bel, a global paints and coat­ings com­pany, sup­plied the paint.

Dur­ing the sum­mer and fall, the fire­boat pro­vided rides from docks around New York Har­bor. This win­ter and spring, the boat is ex­pected to dock at its home lo­ca­tion at Hud­son River Park’s Pier 66 in Chelsea, where she will be dis­played as a float­ing sculp­ture. (pub­li­cart­fund.org)

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