When Boaz Vaadia, a sculptor, saw boulders
being pulled out of the ground during sewer repairs near his Berry Street
studio in 1989, he was determined to salvage them. So he found a forklift
for sale at a local forklift dealership and wrote a check on the spot,
for $3,000. "I felt like a kid picking up stones from the beach, wanting
this beautiful one and that one," said Mr. Vaadia, who uses the boulders
in his artwork.
He soon discovered that Brooklyn is full
of these boulders, which are granite rocks that traveled during the
Ice Age from Canada and settled in the New York area. Their shapes,
Mr. Vaadia explained, were formed during hundreds of thousands of years
of rolling. It is the shapes, in fact, that appeal to Mr. Vaadia.
The boulders are used with figurative
pieces built in layers of bluestone, which he sometimes salvages from
old sidewalks. But the boulders are kept as intact as possible, "leaving
the full glory of the stone," Mr. Vaadia said.
With the spurt of development in Greenpoint
and Williamsburg, Mr. Vaadia has had many harvests recently. "Around
the corner, Bell Atlantic was putting a box of fiber optics of into
the ground, and they hit a boulder, which I took," he said. "And, at
the site where a medical building is going up, two blocks away, I found
At a building site near the Brooklyn Navy
Yard, Serdrick Watson, an excavator with Big M Construction, pointed
to a mountain of boulders and other stones and said, "He just wandered
in and asked for these rocks." Mr. Vaadia said: "I've come to know all
the local tow-truck businesses and their different weight capabilities,
and they know me. Or sometimes I hire the crews from the site, who are
happy to comply."
Occasionally, he runs up against limitations,
like the boulder that was too big for him to move. "It was about the
size of a car, or 36 tons," he said. "I just loved it."
Originally from Israel, Mr. Vaadia, 49,
grew up on a farm. "My father instilled in me a great love for mother
earth," he said. "The fact that I came to New York City didn't change
Mr. Vaadia has a Web site, www.vaadia.com,
which contains pictures of his sculptures and a video
of his studio. He said his artworks are in many collections and museums
around the globe, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "I have
sent Brooklyn rocks all over the world," he said with pride.