Duke Riley’s One Man Submarine

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Photo: Damon Winter / The New York Times
Photo: Damon Winter / The New York Times

We at Artblog love Brooklyn artist Duke Riley‘s art, which we first saw at Pulse art fair in 2006. Riley’s art comes from a deep love of history and a kind of whimsical insertion of himself into re-enactments of long ago events. Most recently, Riley created a one-man submarine out of wood and fiberglas that’s based on a Revolutionary War-era submarine The Turtle. He put the little egg-shaped vessel in the water off Redhook Brooklyn and went for a little voyage over to see the cruise ship the Queen Mary parked right around the corner. The Coast Guard and police didn’t think Riley’s floating bobber was so amusing and the boat was confiscated and he and his accomplices were charged with “marine mischief.” Talk about hammering a fly! Nobody seems to have a sense of humor or whimsy anymore, especially when it comes to imaginative art outside the normal channels. Now that’s a crime.

Here’s the NY Times slide show of the Duke Riley affair. There’s a video on the Times site as well but I don’t recommend it since it’s quite choppy and hard to watch (at least on my computer).

On July 21 I got a Flickr email with photos about Riley’s escapade from a person with the moniker Keylime Steve who lives in Brooklyn and was a witness to the momentous events. Keylime Steve’s set of photos is great and he’s got an illustration in the set of the design for the Turtle with links to more information on its use back in the day.

And here’s a post on our encounter with Riley at the Pulse fair.

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