OHNY’s Ellen Ryan and Jailee Rychen along with OHNY board members Margaret Sullivan and Scott Anderson got a rare treat this past Wednesday night. Artist Tom Fruin talked with them about his stunning installation, Watertower, located on the top of 20 Jay Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn. 

Fruin’s piece is a sculptural interpretation of a water tower made out of found plexiglass, steel and bolts. It appears as a beautiful homage to the New York City water tower, a ubiquitous architectural icon of the city. The result is a dazzling sculptural piece that sits high above the Brooklyn skyline that is visible from Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, the FDR Drive and Lower Manhattan.

The sculpture is lit beginning at 7:30pm every evening. It stays on all night and turns off at 5am. Here is what it looked like just before it was illuminated. Even without the lights, it is a beautiful piece that is framed by an amazing view of DUMBO, the bridges and the Manhattan skyline.


Fruin told us about his inspiration for the patterns and colors in the plexiglass sculpture. He explained that when he first moved to New York City he was fascinated by the drug-bags that littered the streets – the colorful and often decorated bags that were a common sight on the city streets at the time. Watertower is a continuation of Fruin’s earlier work creating drug-bag quilts and flags, for which he is well known.



Fruin works mainly with discarded and found materials. Watertower has been constructed with 1,000 pieces of scrap plexiglass found throughout New York City including the floor of Chinatowm sign shops and the closed studio of Dennis Oppenheim in DUMBO.


He explained the complicated lighting system that he installed inside the water tower, which creates another layer of patterns and movement as lights flash and oscillate in different rhythms, culminating in a lighting finale at the top of the hour. At 5am, there is an even more pronounced finale.


OHNY would like to thank Tom Fruin for sharing the story of his amazing work. The installation is on view until June 2013. For more information about the piece you can visit Tom Fruin’s website. According to Fruin, the best spot to view the water tower is in Brooklyn Bridge Park at Washington Street (see map) and the Manhattan Bridge bike path.



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