! Alert

NYC Ferry’s South Brooklyn route is temporarily bypassing Governors Island through mid-February due to planned maintenance. During this time, Trust-operated ferries continue to run daily every half hour from 10 South Street in Lower Manhattan. Click here for schedules, tickets, and more info on getting to Governors Island.

NYC Ferry’s South Brooklyn route is temporarily bypassing Governors Island through mid-February due to planned maintenance. During this time, Trust-operated ferries continue to run daily every half hour from 10 South Street in Lower Manhattan. Click here for schedules, tickets, and more info on getting to Governors Island.

Open at all times
See the schedule for island hours.
Manhattan - Manhattan - Battery Maritime Building (BMB) Lobby

Although no one knows whose hand con­struct­ed the world’s first ship in a bot­tle, the del­i­cate minia­tures cap­tur­ing frozen nau­ti­cal scenes became pop­u­lar in the 18th and ear­ly 19th cen­turies. In his large work for the Gov­er­nors Island Fer­ry Build­ing, Duke Riley expands on the tra­di­tion of these pre­cious­ly craft­ed objects by using a more com­mon bot­tle of today — sin­gle use plas­tic con­tain­ers found float­ing in oceans world­wide. Unlike their blown glass and wood coun­ter­parts, Riley’s paint­ed vignettes appear etched like scrimshaw on the sur­faces of items that plague our water­way ecosys­tems such as deter­gent bot­tles and caulk­ing tubes. These tow­er­ing scenes act as snap­shots of time and tale, form­ing a bridge from past to present, fact and fan­ta­sy. Riley’s rich­ly pig­ment­ed mur­al pro­vides vis­i­tors an intro­duc­tion to their jour­ney across New York Har­bor to Gov­er­nors Island, reflect­ing on how sto­ry­telling, mem­o­ry, and human con­sump­tion all make imprints into our ever-evolv­ing under­stand­ing of place, his­to­ry, and the phys­i­cal land­scapes that we inhabit.

Duke Riley anchors his work, Not for Nut­ten,in loca­tion with nau­ti­cal flags spelling out Pag­ganuck (“Nut Island”), the name giv­en to this place by its first occu­pants, the Lenni-Lenape, after the Island’s many hick­o­ry, oak, and chest­nut trees. In 1624, Dutch set­tlers trans­lat­ed the Island’s name to Noten Eylandt, which the British lat­er referred to as Nut­ten Island, a mis­pro­nun­ci­a­tion of the Dutch name. Riley’s play of the term not for noth­ing,” a phrase whose ori­gin is spec­u­lat­ed to be unique­ly from New York City, frames the read­ing of the mur­al and its envi­ron­men­tal warn­ing — empha­siz­ing impor­tant news about to be delivered.

On the vast back wall, scenes range from the Island’s British occu­pa­tion to today. A soda bot­tle ref­er­ences an ear­ly 18th cen­tu­ry like­ness of Island res­i­dent Lord Corn­bury, gov­er­nor of New York and New Jer­sey from 1701 – 1708, depict­ed in the attire which he was rumored to adorn in both pri­vate and pub­lic. To the far right, an oil bot­tle con­tains the image of a mer­crea­ture oper­at­ing the world’s first sub­ma­rine, The Tur­tle, used by Washington’s army to secure explo­sives to British war ships in New York Har­bor in 1776. A deodor­ant tube holds the gloves of icon­ic world heavy­weight box­ing cham­pi­on Joe Louis, who appeared for his Army phys­i­cal at Fort Jay in 1942. Over­lap­ping time nar­ra­tives lead us to more recent images of the Island’s for­mer Coast Guard light­house in a dish­wash­ing bot­tle, a nar­whal caught in a COVID-era rub­ber glove, and con­tem­po­rary con­tain­er ship bring­ing goods past the Island in and out of Red Hook, most cer­tain­ly car­ry­ing new sin­gle use items to be dis­card­ed in our har­bor — Easy Come, Easy Go.”

Duke Riley is a Brook­lyn-based artist and sea­far­er, whose work is inter­twined with mar­itime his­to­ry and urban water­ways. His instal­la­tions, paint­ings, draw­ings, sculp­tures, and mosaics weave his­tor­i­cal and con­tem­po­rary events with ele­ments of fic­tion and myth. In 2007, Riley built, launched, and pilot­ed a full-scale repli­ca of the Tur­tle, reen­act­ing its 1776 mis­sion near the shores of Gov­er­nors Island in the But­ter­milk Chan­nel for his project The Bat­tle of Brook­lyn. Born in Boston, Riley received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and his M.F.A. from Pratt Insti­tute. Riley’s work has been wide­ly exhib­it­ed in shows and pub­lic projects in New York, nation­al­ly, and internationally.

Not for Nut­ten was Com­mis­sioned by the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island and was made pos­si­ble through the gen­er­ous sup­port of Cha­ri­na Endow­ment Fund and The O’Grady Foundation.

Open at all times
See the schedule for island hours.
Manhattan - Manhattan - Battery Maritime Building (BMB) Lobby