High Line Art and West Chelsea After Hurricane Sandy

A view of West 22nd Street the morning after Hurricane Sandy. Photo courtesy Friends of the High Line.

Last week New York City was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, leaving much of West Chelsea under several feet of water. Follow us after the jump to learn more about the storm’s impact on High Line Art and the art community on Manhattan’s West Side.

We are filled with mixed emotions in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. After the storm tore through the metropolitan region, we were relieved to find that High Line Art's many projects sustained minimal damage. All of the sculptures and installations are intact, though the artworks that rely upon the park’s electrical system – HIGH LINE CHANNEL 14, HIGH LINE CHANNEL 22, and Uri Aran’s Untitled (Good & Bad) – are temporarily suspended due to damage in the park’s underground utility vaults.

Unfortunately, our neighboring art galleries and cultural organizations in the West Chelsea community are suffering from major damage caused by the hurricane. When you visit the park this week, you will see that some neighboring businesses and galleries remain closed. Other buildings are still without power due to damage from the floodwaters, which surged and spread to 10th Avenue as Hurricane Sandy made landfall last week. Many of the galleries and non-profit organizations near the High Line, including Printed Matter and The Kitchen, lost millions of dollars worth of artwork, archives, office equipment, and space, and are struggling to reopen their doors to visitors.

Several publications have covered the storm’s impact on the arts community, including The New York Times’ Roberta Smith, art critic Linda Yablonsky, and New York Magazine’s Jerry Saltz, who painted a vivid portrait of the scene:

“Widespread devastation was in painful evidence in scores and scores of ground floor galleries between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. Almost every ground floor gallery had been inundated with four or more feet of water. All of the many basement storage facilities were flooded. Computers and desk equipment were wiped out. Reams and reams of irretrievable historical material stored in notebooks and gallery files were washed away, destroyed. Sculptures, crates, furniture, and paintings floated inside water-filled galleries, ramming walls and other works of art. Whole shows were destroyed. Desks floated free. Glass doors had shattered from the pressure of the water inside the galleries.”

Our hearts go out to our neighbors, friends, and colleagues who are still suffering from its devastating impact. If you are able to lend a hand, please visit www.nycservice.org for information about donations and volunteer opportunities. You can also visit the New York Foundation for the Arts or Art Dealers Association of America to learn about ways to support financial programs and emergency grants for the arts community around the High Line.

A view of West 20th Street the morning after Hurricane Sandy as galleries began the long cleanup process. Photo courtesy Friends of the High Line.
Trash outside galleries as they clean out their flooded spaces. Photo courtesy Friends of the High Line.
The water line outside a gallery. Some galleries received over 4 feet of water. Photo courtesy Friends of the High Line.
Artist-designed tote bags hung out to try outside Printed Matter. Photo courtesy Friends of the High Line.
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