‘Well’ wisher! DUMBO artist tends to giant spring in Cadman Park

Leonard Ursachi — a DUMBO artist who’s been obsessed with the disappearing wells of his native Romania — built one for Cadman Park using plastic bottles and a mirror for the reflecting pool.
Community Newspaper Group / Kate Briquelet

Leonard Ursachi is the first to admit that he’s obsessed with water wells.

Last month, the Romanian-born artist created one made of recycled bottles and a giant wooden lever in Cadman Plaza Park for an installation he calls “Well.” And he’s been tending to it ever since, cleaning up after kids, dogs and even Occupy Wall Street stragglers.

It may not provide water, but the well draws many curious amblers — and that’s just what he wants.

“This has been a subject that’s been tormenting my mind for a long time,” said Ursachi, who has a studio in DUMBO. “People connect with the idea of water as a gathering place.”

Ursachi has been emulating the boreholes of his homeland since they began rapidly disappearing 15 years ago. His first exhibition in Romania was an homage of earth and straw bricks.

In 1998, he forged one in DUMBO using wood and Astroturf.

Today’s rendition near Red Cross Place includes a shimmering wellhead made of acrylic bricks. He modeled them after discarded Belgian blocks from the streets of DUMBO and filled them with recycled plastic bottles.

Nearby is the 24-foot-tall lever made of what he calls “driftwood from the beautiful shores of DUMBO beach,” and a bucket of metal and concrete.

And like his other wells, there’s a mirror at the bottom so you can gaze at your own reflection.

Every day he happily walks by the plot and wipes off any grime.

“I saw people testing it, spitting on it,” Ursachi said. “That’s OK, it’s fine. Maybe the well will make them think twice and help them understand that this is a lost source.”

Many of the wells from back home, for instance, are now covered in concrete or turned into Coca Cola kiosks or “quarter-store bodegas.”

He mounted the entire project himself and wouldn’t allow anyone to help him, even after he was hit by a car in March and had to take a few months off.

“The well is a ritual, it has its own story,” Ursachi said. “It’s a community gathering point and I want people to remember that.”

“Well” at Cadman Plaza Park [Cadman Plaza East between Red Cross Place and Prospect Street in Downtown, (212) 360-8163], through April 30, 2012. For info, visit www.ursachi.com.

Reach Kate Briquelet at kbriquelet@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.

The light-filled “Well” uses resin bricks modeled after DUMBO’s historic Belgian blocks.
Community Newspaper Group / Kate Briquelet

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