New York’s Most Colorful Water Tower Lands on Brooklyn Rooftop

Whatever it lacks in skyscrapers, Brooklyn makes up for with thousands upon thousands of iconic water towers, and the most colorful of them has just taken shape on one of the borough’s most visible rooftops — DUMBO’s 20 Jay Street, which faces the busy East River-spanning Manhattan Bridge. The sculpture of colorful recycled Plexiglas and steel, titled simply “Watertower” (2012), is the work of Tom Fruin, whose studio is in the building.

Water tower art completists will recall that, commissioned by MoMA to create a site-specific sculpture, Brit Rachel Whiteread placed the resin and steel sculpture “Water Tower” (1998) atop the Midtown museum. Like that translucent piece, Fruin’s work lets the light pass through, but his tower is markedly less monochromatic. The effect evokes an abstract stained glass window suspended improbably 12 stories up. The quadrilateral Plexiglas panes of color, whether intentionally or not, call to mind Piet Mondrian‘s Neoplasticist paintings.

Fruin’s “Watertower” formally opens on Thursday, and is scheduled to remain on view through July 2013. We just hope it’s bolted down well by the time the first big summer thunderstorm hits.


— Benjamin Sutton