The Sisyphus Stones Are Back, With More Poetry Too


This sculpture made a nice perch for a bird. Photos by David Brotsky.

Artist Uliks Gryka took a break from placing carefully balanced stones in Riverside Park over looking the Hudson River last year, but he’s back now.

He told us he was inspired by other people who have been creating their own sculptures next to the Hudson.

“When I returned back to the Sisyphus Stones this past March I saw that people had been balancing stones (in their own way and style) all winter long. And probably I felt moved by their work, so I decided to resurrect the place according to my style and vision again, however preserving certain structures created by other hands. And now I go down to the river few times a week, when I am free.”

His sculptures often reference elements like fire too.

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Consecration . . The Fire had been alive withing Zoroaster since the beginning of Time. When its heat and light became unbearable to be carried within, Zoroaster shared it with the world. . . #art #arts #sculpture #myart #contemporaryart #modernart #primitiveart #video #short #zoroaster #divinity #sisyphusstones #nycart #artgallery #galleryart #sculpturegarden #film #artistico #temple #artcollectors #exhibit #exhibition #mostra #arte #figurative #fineart #visualarts

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Gryka began building his structures in August 2017, and kept doing it for a year — even though he got frustrated by people dismantling his sculptures. After a break, he vowed to continue, calling himself “the guardian of the garden.” He has been building on and off over the year, but now appears to be picking up the pace. And he sometimes hangs banners with poetry at the site.


A poem by Persian poet Hafez.

ART, NEWS, OUTDOORS | 18 comments | permalink
    1. Keith says:

      These sculptures have been delighting me since I started riding my bike that way last year. Its a long way to go (by foot) to see them, but definitely worth it. Thanks to Uliks and the anonymous others for adding beauty to city.

    2. your_neighbor says:

      What does this mean “I decided to resurrect the place according to my style and vision again, however preserving certain structures created by other hands” ??

      Is he taking down structures created by “other hands” that don’t rank high on his own artistic/creative scale?

      • Sharon says:

        He says he will preserve other people’s work carefully

        • young man! says:

          The way I am reading it, if this guy sees a stone that he needs being used on some “inferior” project he will feel free to take it.
          Note he says he will preserve “certain” works by others.

          • Jen says:

            What makes him an “artist in charge”? To me, whoever decided to express themselves this way have equal opportunity.

            But the issue of using a public resource as a private studio and asking to stay away from it because of the safety reasons, is plain wrong. This is our park and we shouldn’t be afraid of falling rocks.

    3. Weird That Way says:

      Stones feel stressed when someone rips them from their natural state.

    4. Mark P says:

      I can understand why he’d be frustrated if people take down his work. At the same time, people are 100% free to do so, just as he is to put them up. It seems to me that this happening is an essential element of naming them Sisyphus Stones. While I don’t know that I would take his work down (I’ve not yet been close enough to do so), to me, he can make a more transcendent claim in his art when this happens. Freedom of action, frustration, acceptance and renewal give the work greater meaning, it seems to me.

      • Mike says:

        Mark – you make great points. Sisyphus is supposed to keep pushing the rock uphill, not squawk when someone fiddles with the art.

    5. Elizabeth says:

      At what street level are these structures?

      • Keith says:

        They are on the Hudson River Greenway at about 170th street. You can find them on Google Maps!

      • your_neighbor says:

        You can find various structures along the river from 59 St to 72nd Street and then from around 86th St at least up to 125th St. Pretty much wherever the waterfront and the rip-rap stone, put there to protect the shoreline from erosion, is easily accessible.

      • young man! says:

        The main pictures in this article show the George Washington Bridge, so these specific structures look to be in the 130’s to 150’s.

        There are other structures as you go south down to 59th street.

      • Alistair Lowe says:

        Just South of GW bridge. Can enter on 165St and head south or 151 and head north (155 bridge is under repair). Former is closer. If not riding, I’d do the former as can see the little red lighthouse

    6. HJ says:

      The problem I have with this artist is he takes over a public and natural resource – the shoreline of the Hudson- and then posts warnings that people and children should not play near his work. Our access to shoreline is extremely limited in NYC and I’m afraid it just shouldn’t be dominated by one person’s vision.

      • scott says:

        Agreed, as much as I enjoy the sculptures, its a bit ridiculous to tell people they can’t play or hang our around them. its a public space.

        • Jen says:

          Yes, I have the same issue with it. Last year, when I expressed this point of view, I got yelled at by fellow commentators going as far as claiming that my children are unsupervised.

          Public places are supposed to have a certain level of safety. City gets sued if a tree branch falls. But this “artist” actually uses it as his personal gallery and tells people to stay away?

          His attitude is very arrogant and just wrong.

    7. Intrepid Traveler NYC says:

      Can someone tell me how to get by car to the main location of the sculptures, and to visit the Little Red Lighthouse?
      A few years back, we took our granddaughter to seethe Lighthouse and followed directions on the Parks Dept. website. Parked east of the highway and walked to a locked fence. No other access was found,

      • Ali says:

        Just South of GW bridge. Can enter on 165St and head south or 151 and head north (155 bridge is under repair right now). Former is closer. If not riding, I’d do the former as can see the little red lighthouse by walking north