The last place anyone would expect to see a 60-foot whale is here in the Valley — especially if that whale is emerging from the ground in a public park. Yet, that’s exactly what you’ll find in this riverfront location in one of our region’s biggest cities.
Made from stainless steel and concrete, the sculpture has been “floating” in the park for more than a decade. In 2002, the city commissioned Cragsmoor-based artist Judy Sigunick to create an artwork for the area. After several months of construction, this creature of the deep was unveiled at the park in the fall of that same year.
But why a whale? According to Sigunick, the inspiration for this piece came straight from the Valley’s past. The park where it resides was once the site of not one, but two 19th-century whaling companies. Couple that with Sigunick’s affinity for creating large and endangered animals — her rhinoceros sculptures can be seen at the Rosendale Community Center — and a finback makes perfect sense.
The creature, which gives the illusion of being partially submerged as it would be when breaching water, bears a full set of teeth, and is displayed in three parts: the head, the hump, and the tail. Hundreds of multicolored glazed ceramic tiles of various sizes and shapes line the back of the piece, many of which are engraved with music notes, faces, hand prints, and words like “peace.”
A Chicago native, the artist graduated with an MFA from SUNY New Paltz in 1993, and has been creating art and teaching her craft ever since. Although interactivity was not her original intention, Sigunick is happy when she sees children climbing on the sinuous sculpture. “It’s wonderful actually, people have just taken to the piece on their own,” she said.
Do you know the name of the city and the park where this concrete cetacean lives? Submit your answer in the form below; the first reader with the correct response wins a prize. Good luck!