Resembling a landbound Loch Ness monster, a new public art installation at the Beach 60th A Train station activates a formerly underutilized piece of land in the Rockaways. Poking in and out of the ground as it slithers its way toward the beach, the “Subway Sea Serpent” playfully mirrors the passing trains above and reflects the values of the local community.

Subway ea serpent art sculpture
Photo by Joey Castillo

“The building blocks of the project: the site, the sculptural elements, and the built-in solar panel/electronics in the piece, make a more overarching point about the people of the Rockaways,” Zaq Landsberg, one of the installations creators told Untapped New York. “Living on the peninsula requires connected community resilience, and hopefully the piece is a small but glowing example of how small steps and local actions can lead to big results.”

This art is installed on a piece of land owned by the Department of Transportation that sits beside the elevated train tracks and was once overgrown and unused. Now, thanks to the revitalizing efforts of RISE (Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability & Equity), the lot is a place for community events, musical performances, a “drive-thru” farm share pickup for low- and middle-income residents, and public art such as the “Subway Sea Serpent.”

Subway Sea serpent
Photo by Zaq Landsberg

This A train twin is made of wood, plaster-resin, and plexiglass coated with a glimmering silver paint. On each side, there is a logo that reads “RTA: Rockaway Subway,” which is reminiscent of the MTA logo. The subway car features a glowing “A” and illuminating headlights powered by a built-in solar panel and battery. These important parts were sourced from local New York City businesses such as Adafruit Industries, a woman-owned, New York City-based electronics manufacturer that focuses on education and the arts, and Voltaic Systems, a Brooklyn-based provider of remote charging solutions.

Subway sea serpent at night
Photo by Zaq Landsberg

“Using the sun’s own energy to power the lighting on this sculpture is not just a nod to sustainability, but a beacon for what’s possible for do-it-yourself makers,” Joey Castillo, Landsberg’s co-creator for this project, said in a press release. “Using parts from local suppliers, we were able to create a project that doesn’t simply draw power from the grid, but lights the way forward for small-scale sustainable and resilient technology.”

Subway sea serpent
Photo by Joey Castillo

“My pieces work best both physically and theoretically close to the ground, accessible to anyone, meeting people where they are, outside of an institutional art context, and easily understandable and tailored to a community,” Landsberg said. Some of his previous installations in New York City include Recling Liberty and Islands of the Unisphere. “Subway Sea Serpent” will be on view in the Rockaways indefinitely.

Underground NYC Subway Tour

Subway tour

Next, check out more public art installations in NYC this October!