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2021 Waterfront Public Art: Groundswell

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Temporary Public Art Installation by Mark Reigelman
Late March to November 2021
Waterfront Park, 1 King Street

Groundswell, the 2021 temporary public art installation from Brooklyn-based artist Mark Reigelman, was on display at Waterfront Park in Old Town Alexandria from March to November 2021 as the third installation in the City of Alexandria’s “Site See: New Views in Old Town” annual public art series. Groundswell brought an element of play to Alexandria’s changing shoreline with a ground mural depicting the floor of the Potomac River and more than 100 wood pilings topped with etched blue mirrors that shimmer like water. The installation was inspired by Alexandria’s history going back to the 18th century when drastic measures began to manipulate the city’s shoreline. Thousands of wood pilings were driven further into the Potomac River over time, thereby shifting the city’s waterfront over decades. This allowed Alexandria to develop and grow its sprawling dock into a major commercial port.

Get to Know Groundswell

Each piling is 14 inches in diameter and topped with a cobalt blue, mirrored surface etched with tree growth rings that suggest the passing of time. They glisten in the light like the nearby water, reflecting the sky and the faces of passersby.

More than 100 timber pilings range in heights from 12 to 42 inches, in accordance with the river floor topography.

The installation features a grayscale ground mural depicting the floor of the Potomac River near the site.

The artist hopes visitors will be immersed in this shimmering landscape as they navigate through the pilings, considering their place in the city’s history.

Meet The Artist

Get to know Mark Reigelman, the Brooklyn-based artist behind Groundswell.

Artistic Driver

I take great satisfaction knowing my work is part of a movement that intends to redefine public space, encourage interaction between people and their environment and work towards the reweaving of our social fabric. I am less an artist and more akin to those people with metal detectors searching the landscape for something magical.

Notable Work

I designed a waterfront piece—Sweetwater Playground—near my studio in Brooklyn, New York, that was inspired by the formed Domino Sugar Factory site. It takes children through a fun-filled representation of the sugar refining process with ramps, conveyor belts and slides, all while taking in the views of the New York skyline.

Alexandria Inspiration

When Alexandria was a busy port city in the 18th and 19th centuries, drastic measures were taken to extend the city’s shoreline, including intentionally sinking wooden ships and thousands of timber pilings that crept further into the Potomac River, creating a fluctuating new boundary. My installation Groundswell seeks to bring an element of play to the shoreline’s material topography with an immersive ecosystem of 102 raw wood pilings topped with etched blue mirrors that shimmer like water.

Waterfront Public Art Series

Explore more installations in this annual series.

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