RISE is pleased to present the installation of Zaq Landsberg and Joey Castillo’s Subway Sea Serpent. An opening celebration will be held on Saturday, October 7, 2023, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
The multi-part, undulating subway train looks as if it’s jumped off the elevated tracks at the Beach 60th A Train station and dived underground to make its way towards the beach.
Segments of the cars break above the grass as if the train were a sea serpent swimming in the water, or an earthworm moving through the soil. It sprawls over a few hundred feet of formerly overgrown and unutilized land beside the elevated train tracks. The piece is constructed of wood, plaster-resin and plexiglass, is coated in glimmering silver paint, and features a built-in solar panel and battery which powers the glowing blue “A” and headlights at night.
The A train is an integral part of the Rockaways and waiting on the platform for that glowing blue “A” is a unifying experience of residents of all ages, races and backgrounds.
Subway Sea Serpent sits on a parcel of DOT land adjacent to the Beach 60th Street Station that had previously been overgrown and underutilized. RISE, the Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability & Equity, launched a community initiative to revitalize this land, and in addition to public art it also hosts community events, musical performances and “drive-thru” farm share pickup for low- and middle-income residents.
“This project directly addresses the Rockaways and takes a universally recognized object and twists it to put it in a new context,” says Zaq Landsberg. “I specialize in art pieces that attract viewers, children, old people and everyone else. The project would draw people toward the in-between space that is underneath the elevated and might not be permanent, but serves as a demonstration of what that space could be.”
“Using the sun’s own energy to power the lighting on this sculpture is not just a nod to sustainability, but a beacon for what’s possible for do-it-yourself makers,” says Joey Castillo. “Using parts from local suppliers, we were able to create a project that doesn’t simply draw power from the grid, but lights the way forward for small-scale sustainable and resilient technology.”
Parts for Subway Sea Serpent were sourced from Adafruit Industries, a woman-owned, New York City based electronics manufacturer with a focus on education and the arts. The electronics run on a series of custom circuit boards in Adafruit’s Feather form factor, and the solar panel, which harvests energy for the sculpture, was designed by Voltaic Systems, a Brooklyn-based provider of remote charging solutions.