Windfall Alphabet: Courtesy Gretchen Bennett

Governor’s Island sits a quick, free ferry ride from the tip of Manhattan near Battery Park and Wallstreet. A 3 mile bike ride around the island takes little time, and its distance away from the island of Manhattan makes it impossible to drive to. It’s only accessible by boat. Tranquil, quaint, serene, otherworldly – Governor’s Island is secluded from the masses unlike anywhere else in New York City. The only reminder of the city is the buzz of helicopters ferrying tourists around the NYC skyline daily.

For a year recently the visual artist Gretchen Bennett had a studio on the island through the LMCC. While wandering the island, Bennett discovered a formation in the broken branches scattered under trees – an alphabet of roughly broken twigs. She assembled them into found poems, found sentences and found art on large canvases back in her studio.

Leading an art walk Saturday on Governor’s Island, she led me with more than 20 other’s to discover our own lexicon in the fallen branches. The goal was to find fallen letters on their own or by reducing a branch to a letter form, assemble the twiglets on a canvas and create a text of found letters from the “windfall alphabet”.


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