Artists: The Brooklyn Side of the Williamsburg Bridge Is Missing a Provocative ‘Hello’

That which remains to be done: Williamsburg greets the LES.
That which remains to be done: Williamsburg greets the LES

First, there was news of a massive index finger—is it meant to unite? or provoke?—from Brooklyn artist Hank Willis Thomas, which will greet cars and pedestrians and cyclists entering Kings County from over the Brooklyn Bridge. Now, another ambiguously messaged and gigantic sculpture from self-described “provincial New Yorker,” artist Deborah Kass, has been installed in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Depending on your perspective, facing Manhattan or Brooklyn, it reads, respectively, “OY” or “YO.” Bemused exasperation, or a rote “what-up.”

We tend to think the “OY/YO” sculpture would be better suited to the base of the Manhattan Bridge, so that people entering Brooklyn from the two southern-most bridges will now be equally thrown off by the question of whether or not we’re a borough of exclusionary jerks? Who’s to say, really?

Of course, these successive and conspicuous installations made us realize something was missing: A massive, slightly off-putting sculpture at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge. It could complete the large-scale public art triptych: “East-River-Bridges-say-hello-to-Manhattan.”

Our idea? The Williamsburg “icon,” a giant mustache. It’s just what the Williamsburg Bridge needs to keep up with its flashier sister-bridges to the south.


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