Harlem Meer, 09.15.12, Day One

By September 16, 2012Sketches

The Harlem Meer is a large-ish 11 acre manmade lake on the north-east corner of Central Park.  As it’s visible from Central Park North/110th street and 5th avenue it has been a large part of my New York experience through years of commuting.  My first experience of Christo’s Gates was playing hookey and walking through the park starting with the Meer after an enormous snowfall.

It’s often difficult to remember that Central Park is a constuct, as such is the genius of Frederick Law Olmstead the park’s engineer.  So for us “recent” New Yorkers it may be difficult to fathom that the Island in the Meer was only voted into existence in 1989 and fabricated shortly thereafter…

The island would be created in the Harlem Meer, an 11-acre lake at the northeast corner of Central Park, and would be about 150 feet north of the Lasker Rink and Pool.

In rough dimensions, the island would be 55 feet by 110 feet, or about one-eighth of an acre, and would rise seven-and-a-half feet above the water’s surface. It would have tupelo, sweet gum, willow, alder and dogwood trees, blueberry and bayberry bushes, wild rice and bulrush. To discourage boat docking and other human visits, an underwater fence would be built around it.

Henry J. Stern, the Parks and Recreation Commissioner, said the island was his idea, inspired by the landscapes of Lake Placid and Lake George upstate. ”Manhattan is too large to see at once. I wanted an island you could see from the ground and get a sense of its insularity. Why shouldn’t Manhattan have something on that scale – delicate, with the land pushing through the water?” – NYT, Feb 06, 1989

It has long been my desire to take ownership of the Meer.  It’s a beautiful corner of the park and undergoes a wild array of colors and shapes as the foliage roils over the course of the year.  Perhaps my grand intentions are folly but today was a first salvo at working out some plein air landscape drawing issues.  Wrestling with materials i gather is part of the special elegance of the task.  Beautiful day for an outing.




E. Tage Larsen

E. Tage Larsen is an artist, designer and dog robber. You may encounter him as an art gallery director, branding designer or illustrator. His work has received awards from "Society of Illustrators", "American Illustration", 'Print' magazine annual as well as the LogoLounge and LogoLounge 'Master Series' annuals. Essays on design and fine art have appeared in numerous magazines and web sites.

Among his less savory qualities, he's a poor sport, a sore loser and ill fitted for honest labor. He makes bad friends and worse decisions. Animals avoid him and children despise him. He's been known to drink to excess, carry on with seditious talk and leer at women. He's a coward, a card cheat and a known liar.

Mrs. Call's second grade class said perhaps all that needed to be said about Larsen.In a moment of vindication and possibly clarity, Call would add to Larsen's permanent record that he was a bit of a dreamer and that Larsen was "an excellent student but his grades trailed off in the final semester."True, Larsen was filled with promise and saddled as starry-eyed but one can't help but notice that Call's inability to chisel this raffish diamond-in-rough wasn't also a clerical trick to distance herself from the responsibility of the 'Nurture' debate.She also said he was "prompt".She wasn't wrong.

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