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Historic NYC fireboat has dazzling new look

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Tauba Auerbach, Flow Separation, 2018. Commissioned by Public Art Fund and 14-18 NOW and presented on Fireboat John J. Harvey in New York Harbor July 1, 2018 – May 12, 2019. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery. Image by Nicholas Knight, courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

JULY 27, 2018 — Commemorating the centenary of the ending of World War I, the historic retired New York City fireboat John J. Harvey has been given a striking dazzle camouflage paint job. Developed by British painter Norman Wilkinson, the original dazzle designs were painted on ships crossing the North Atlantic in World War I , using bold, high-contrast patterns intended to confuse enemy submarines tracking their distance, direction and speed.

The John J. Harvey dazzle project was co-commissioned by New York City’s Public Art Fund and 14-18 NOW, a United Kingdom public arts program commemorating the centenary of World War I. 14-18 NOW has commissioned the presentation of four Dazzle Ships throughout the U.K., but the John J, Harvey is the first U.S.-based ship to be dazzled and the final vessel in the series before the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I on November 11, 2018.

Called “Flow Separation,” the John J. Harvey dazzle coating is the creation of New York-based artist Tauba Auerbach.

The exterior of the fireboat has been painted with two patterns that the artist generated through the intricate process of marbling paper and that maintain the fireboat’s red and white palette.

Paint and coatings company AkzoNobel supplied the paint for the project.

“At AkzoNobel, we are passionate about paint. We are proud to support this unique project with our ‘International’ brand paint and see dazzling patterns in red and white come to life on the John J. Harvey,” says Chuck Hampton, AkzoNobel’s Regional Business Director, Marine & Protective Coatings North America. “The artful beautification of this historic fireboat thanks to the talented Tauba Auerbach has created a unique exhibition in which the public can now experience this vessel in a re-imagined way.”

From July through late September, the John J. Harvey will be docked at two locations: Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 and Hudson River Park’s Pier 25. On weekends, the public will be able to board the boat to experience the dazzled design up close, and free timed trips around different parts of New York Harbor from each location will be offered, creating a special experience with a contemporary artwork and historic vessel.

During the winter and spring months, the boat will be docked at its home location at Hudson River Park’s Pier 66a in Chelsea and will act as a floating sculpture that the public may view from land or water. Visitors can reserve tickets online.

For more information about locations and to reserve tickets, visit PublicArtFund.org.


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