There is something blooming on the Gowanus Canal, and, no, it is not toxic algae.
A local artist installed a pair of fabric rose-bushes on the banks of the fetid waterway on Oct. 16, using discarded Ralph Lauren shirts to create a burst of color he said was inspired by the detritus left in the neighborhood by illegal dumpers.
“When you look at the industrial appliances and clothing and stuff littering the ground, if you squint it can look like a garden,” said Carlton Scott Sturgill, a Windsor Terrace textile artist who works out of a studio in Gowanus. “I wanted to turn detritus into actual flowers.”
The project was a collaboration between Sturgill, local arts organization Arts Gowanus, and the Department of Transportation, which funded the installation and allowed Sturgill to put the fabric flowers on Department property.
Sturgill has been working on the installation since about July, and spent the last few months combing thrift shops — and occasionally Ebay — for the once-high-end shirts in the colors he needed. He said each bush, on either side of the Union Street bridge, took about 20 shirts, which became the petals of 150 to 175 roses.