By Sabina Mollot
Recently, a Stuyvesant Town journalist and artist found inspiration in a section of her neighborhood that’s so small it’s likely to get overlooked even by people who pass it by all the time.
That plot of land is a rocky outcropping of the shoreline that’s covered in sand and a known hangout for ducks and geese.
Karen Loew, who refers to the spot in Stuyvesant Cove Park as “the beach,” first found herself drawn to it for a simple reason. She liked it. But after learning about the controversial history of the location as well as the park itself from a neighbor, Loew knew she wanted to film it. She went on to put together an exhibition of photography as well as a short, dance film, called “No Man’s Land,” that will be shown at the 14th Street Y this summer.
The exhibit, she said, also includes a detailed timeline of the history of the park.
“It kind of tells the story of its past, its present and its future,” said Loew, “because the Stuyvesant Town coastline is about to change quite rapidly because of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project and because of the ferry stop at 20th Street. It will be adjacent to that little beach just north of 20th Street. So I want to tell the story before the character changes.”
The history detailed in the timeline includes the community’s challenge of a planned complex of high-rises that would have cut off locals’ access to the water, as well as the building of the park later on. As for the beach, it too almost never was, having only been created when a concrete mixing company at the waterfront improperly spilled concrete into the river. The sand accumulated later.
“That turned it into a focal point,” said Loew. “Part of what catches people’s eye is it’s mysterious.”
Her five-minute film, she added, maintains the mystery of the subject, as it’s told entirely through dance, while the exhibit will do the explaining.
The dance in “No Man’s Land” is performed by Megan Nordle, who Loew discovered through a hang-gliding class she took in Florida. The teacher had mentioned his daughter, a Manhattanite, “loved projects like this,” said Loew, “and she was game.”
“No Man’s Land” is actually the second time Loew has made a short, dance film devoted to a particular location. In 2012, she worked with LABA at the 14th Street Y to film “Intersection: Babel,” which was inspired by the 14th Street and First Avenue intersection. Her current project, however, was done independently though the venue will still be the Y at 344 East 14th Street. The opening is on Thursday, June 29 from 7-9 p.m. with the photos and film remaining on view through Labor Day. Rather than be screened at a particular time, the film can be seen in a private viewing booth at any time.