A new installation from sculptor Tom Fruin has popped up at Gansevoort Plaza for the winter. Titled Bombora House, the colorful interactive public art piece is made up of one large house-shaped centerpiece with smaller “satellite” house-shaped sculptures around it. Visitors to the plaza are encouraged to interact with the work via text to prompt a light display.

The title Bombora House stems from an expression used by surfers. Fruin’s fellow artist, friend, and inspiration, Melinda Brown says that in her native land of Australia, “Bombora refers to a large wave with its own frequency. Surfers will wait for the bombora to roll in.” Brown adopted that name for the building she lived in on the corner of 13th Street and Ninth Avenue where artists would gather and create together.

Fruin’s own Bombora House represents the wave of cultural and architectural evolution rolling through the Meatpacking District. Meatpacking BID Executive Director, Jeffrey LeFrancois notes that Bombora House is the first art installation on the plaza since its reconstruction. “The Meatpacking District has been repeatedly redefined through its various uses, creative tenants, and the juxtaposition of new architecture atop historic buildings. We all need something to brighten our days right now, and the Bombora House does just that,” says LeFrancois. Fruin’s tiny house-like piece is also meant to convey comforting feelings of hope, joy, and stability.

The installation of Bombora House was a sort of homecoming for Fruin, who had his first art show at Rare Gallery on 14th Street. He reminisced on his adventures around the Meatpacking District, “Late night dancing at APT or Tortilla Flats, drinks at Passerby, breakfasts at La Bonbonniere. An evening at Bombora House would often start when Eddie from Down East Seafood next door would bring up a fresh tuna over his shoulder! We’d all go up to the roof to see the street scene below. Melinda in her role as artist, activist and instigator would set in action creative production and inspiration. Hoping my homage to Bombora House captures a glimpse of that energy.”

Visitors to the sculpture are encouraged to interact with the culture by sending a text to 347-328-2636. The text will prompt a programmed light reaction designed by Ryan Holsopple. The message sender will also receive a neighborhood-focused text response either with more information about the sculpture or suggestions for fun things to do in the Meatpacking District. During the day, the quilt-like surfaces of the sculptures will filter and color the sunrays that shine through onto the plaza. At night, the sculptures will be illuminated by LEDs from within.

Bombora House at Gansevoort Plaza
Jim Fryer / BrakeThrough Media

Bombora House is the result of a partnership between the New York City design firm Holiday Collective, the Meatpacking Business Improvement District (BID) and Brooklyn-based sculptor, Tom Fruin, made possible through the NYC Department of Transportation’s Art Program (DOT Art). The multi-paneled rainbow structure is part of Fruin’s Icon series. Pieces like Bombora House have popped up in DUMBO’s Empire Stores and Hudson Yards. It will be on display throughout the winter season o Gansevoort Plaza at Ninth Avenue and Gansevoort Street.

Next, check out 14 New Public Art Installations in NYC December 2020