I was downtown yesterday when the sun came out, breaking a spell of gloomy wet weather we've been having. I decide on a whim that this was the perfect opportunity to go see the High Line. Past the Apple store, a left just after Alexander Mcqueen, there it is, right across the street from Helmut Lang, the stairway up to the much anticipated creation of the garden design world's star brand, Piet Oudolf.
Even in it's incomplete form, it's clear that the High Line is a perfect storm of, visionary concept, masterful execution and head exploding artistry. It's impossible to describe how this New Yorker felt to be taken up on a higher plain and be afforded a brand new visual experience of this city that felt futuristic and vintage at the same time. I couldn't take it all in all at once, I'll have to go back, again and again to savor what these first impressions promise.
I noticed the subtle references to what was originally there, the rail tracks. I loved the long fingered pavings that perfectly graduated the beds with the path that weaved organically to the left and right. I was thrilled by the photographic opportunities, the Manahattan views framed by berries and flowers, the long, long vistas translating into all kinds of possible random focus and blur compositions, the west side location lending unbroken access to the evening light from the setting sun.
I used the word brand with Piet Oudolf because he has very successfuly created one that sylistically is immediately recognizable. Something that I've seen over and over in books, magazines, photographs but which I found strangely uncompelling in the World Trade Center Garden. Here, the controlled wildness, the drifts and repetitions, the different chapters of sophisticated color palettes, the combinations of mundane and unusual plants was in a word - genius and uniquely in his vernacular.
The sensory high that this new Manhattan landscape is able to induce is sadly punctuated by the inevitable downer of having to share it - rowdy children, conversations yelled into cell phones, dawdling path blocking groups. This is nothing new for a seasoned urban dweller but I did, so wish I could have been like Joel Sterfenld walking the the High Line back in 2000 unfettered by all these intrusions. Maybe then I would have understood some of the descriptions used originally for this place, melancholy, haunting. It's certainly not that now, but as a creative venture built on that concept which now manages to evoke a landscape that suggests and triggers many thought processes about the fragile balance between the urban and natural, it's a resounding success.
+ OGMedia:The High Line