For artists living in a city that thousands of creatives call home, finding space to showcase your art is a never-ending struggle. Added to the pressure of paying rent and putting food on the table, it can feel like an impossible undertaking.
But visual artist Mary Mattingly has discovered a unique (and legal) way to create her own space: calling the Hudson River its home, “Swale” will be a community garden erected on a barge. Its soil will contain an assortment of vegetable and fruit trees; all of the plants on board will be edible. Mattingly also envisions a mobile greenhouse where the public can harvest and cultivate their own crops.
Expected to run in the summer, the 80 x 30 foot structure will travel to different piers in the five boroughs. Mattingly is aware that the project is a risky endeavor. Since “Swale” is a vessel open to the public, it will be regulated by the US Coast Guard.
On top of the community garden will be a 12 x 12 foot pavilion built by Sally Bozzuto of Biome Arts. The triangular prism will be an open meeting place for performance artists, activists, and visitors. Digital sensors embedded in plant beds will capture temperature rates, soil moisture and pH content to give visitors an idea of the inner workings of the nautical garden.