along the Dobbs Ferry beach on the west side of the train tracks.
The beach is wide at low tide, plenty of driftwood.
Rocks that have spent time in the water.
We used to take the dogs here to swim. A tributary debouches into the Hudson and it’s said a Lenape midden can be found a little ways up the stream. Ancient oyster midden, spanking new Tappan Zee Bridge — or Mario Cuomo bridge, or just the Tap, to old timers.
Malcolm MacDougall III dreams along the Hudson for inspiration.
He’s a sculptor specializing in metal, and today he’s opening the doors of his studio to view his work and hear him talk.
There are actually no doors to throw open, because he works in a huge, corrugated-tin-ceilinged Navy-built Quonset Hut that goes clean through to the outside.
Some of his pieces are large and perch on the sandy stretch in front. Stainless steel is a favorite material.
Prospect Park wanted to buy one of them but they were afraid kids would use them to play on and there might be some kind of injury. It would be a cool place to climb. That fell through. He welds a lot of smaller pieces, too.
In his talk, he remembers going to the beach with his dad and being inspired. In art school he discovered metal, which he likes because “it seems permanent but you can change it.” He casts other peoples’ work to make his living, like the group of pine figures that he will cast in bronze.
He’s pretty busy, with the welding and the casting and a three year old son and a wife, Tory, who is nine months pregnant.
Things become animated in his mind’s eye. “It’s like you’re waiting around for something to happen,” he says self-deprecatingly of his work process.
“I like objects that feel like a foggy day – like it’s almost that,” he says.
His raw materials are pretty basic but beautiful.
A lot of the machinery in the shop seems macho to me, like something only men would use.
Malcolm describes the work he does differently. Welding a piece “is delicate, more like sewing, or stitching,” he says. For further inspiration, he can go to the corner of his studio.
Or wend his way down to the craggy old tree where teenagers gather to smoke weed.
Whatever you imagine, you can bring into being. That was my takeaway from Malcom MacDougall III. If his pieces remind you of something you might find along the strand, there’s a reason for that.