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Local sketch artist documents the transformation of Staten Island as a 60-story Ferris wheel is built
Monday, December 14, 2015

It’s supposed to be Staten Island’s largest structure, a 630-foot high Ferris wheel. With construction now underway, a Staten Island artist — Wagner College art professor Bill Murphy — is preparing to document the transformation as NY1’s Amanda Farinacci reports.

Amid the noisy backdrop of construction work, sketch artist Bill Murphy is lost in his work.

With the quick strokes of a pencil, Murphy is getting a sense of his subject the Staten Island waterfront he’ll be documenting for the next 18 months.

“There’s something about a drawing, when you do it, really on location, that has a certain feel of it,” Murphy said,

Murphy — a professor at Wagner College — has been hired by developers of the New York Wheel to document the building of the 60-story attraction, which is expected to open in 2017. The construction is just getting started, and so is Murphy’s work.

“I’m not really getting a clear picture of pictures, so to speak, but eventually hopefully I will,” Murphy said. “To see, how to actually show the wheel itself being in construction, I think, is going to be really interesting.”

The New York Wheel caught Murphy’s attention because of its anticipated impact on the north shore waterfront.

Much of his work has focused on Staten Island’s maritime history. One of his drawings hangs at the Smithsonian and another at the Staten Island museum.

While he’s drawn literally thousands of pictures all over Staten Island, Murphy says this is the first time he’s participated in a project with historic significance.

He says the fact that he’s a life-long Staten Islander makes him the perfect person for the job.

Wheel officials agree.

“He’s a wonderful representative of the artist community here on Staten Island,” said Rich Marin.

Murphy’s etchings along with the images of an island photographer documenting the project will be included in a coffee-table book commissioned by the developers.

A documentary will be made as well. All of this, ensuring a full record of how Staten Island’s shoreline is transformed by one of the largest Ferris wheels in the world.

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