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When we were first introduced to the work of Hell’s Kitchen artist Gynneth Leech in the summer of 2015, she was creating art on paper coffee cups in Clinton Community Garden.
Her creativity took a turn that year when construction began right outside her 13th-floor studio window in the Garment District. She watched a forty story building appear before her eyes and block her view. “Overcoming a sense of loss and the desire to flee, I made a decision to stay and record the process from the foundation up,” she said. “I realized then how fast the building site was changing, with new shapes, patterns, light effects, and human dramas daily. It set my work on a new path.”
Since then, Gwyneth regularly heads out to construction sites around the city and makes paintings of what she calls “mountainous architectural landscapes”, where each time she comes back the structures have changed. Being right next to Hudson Yards during its construction fed her new art.
Now, as One Vanderbilt on 42nd Street is completed, she has created a painting exhibition online, showing the building progression at the super tall tower that has been coming up over the past three years next to Grand Central Station.
“I became fascinated with the construction of One Vanderbilt in 2017 as the structural steel began rising above ground level,” she told us. “In celebration of the completion of the tower this month, I am delighted to present this exhibition of nineteen paintings.”
The series starts with this painting, created on the corner of the Park Avenue Viaduct where the elevated roadway encircles Grand Central Station and overlooks the construction site. She said: “At this stage, massive steel pillars had been installed and the skeleton of higher floors was just beginning to take shape. The tiny figures of the workers emphasize the gigantic scale of the project.”
The final painting in the series is a view from 42nd Street looking west. “A shaft of sunlight between buildings creates abstract blocks of brightness and shadow on the face of Grand Central. The nearly completed OVA tower is suffused with bright light and reflects a blue sky between showers,” recalls Gywneth. “In the far distance, looking west along 42nd Street it seems that rain is still falling.”
You can visit the exhibition at https://www.gwynethleech.com/one-vanderbilt-rising-exhibition