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Lipe Art Shark opens West Side sculpture park for summer

Muralist Justin Moshaty in front of the eastern face of the Lipe Art Shark at Saturday's opening. Photo by Herm Card.

Its shape is vaguely retro, like the silhouette of an old A&W drive-in or the fast-disappearing golden arches of McDonald's. And the flyers for last Saturday afternoon's launch event re-cycled an old movie poster for "Beach Blanket Bingo" with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. Bring a picnic, beach chairs and Frisbees, urged the flyer, which billed the Shark's launch as the park's opening for summer, "And we'll provide the life guards and music."

The flyer called the Lipe Art Shark "a friendly predator, hunting creativity in the city of Syracuse." The Shark cozies up to the lone tree, a box elder, in the center of Lipe Art Park on W. Fayette, anchoring a space that's seen its share of temporary art installations since it morphed from an old train yard two years ago. Now, from the Shark's central, vertical slab of rectangular concrete, steel beams frame a rising curved canopy of mesh, and above the frame a section of chain-link fence extends the concrete slab's height but not its solidity. A wrap-around mural on both concrete faces, to be changed annually by the winner of a design contest, completes the Shark.

Artist-architect Brendan Rose designed the Shark, an encore to his popular Tectonic Hand sculpture downtown at City Hall Commons on E. Washington St. A focus of his master's thesis at Syracuse University, the Shark is Rose's exploration of "the interlock of vertical and horizontal space." Equally as important for Rose, the Shark emerged from lengthy collaboration and design critiques within the neighborhood. Earlier Saturday, Rose had attended his convocation at SU, part of commencement weekend, and received the School of Architecture's 2010 graduate award for contribution through community engagement. "Not the award for high grades!" he laughed good-naturedly.

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