This is the fourth year that my mom and I have gone to see the Canstruction exhibit in downtown Manhattan (see how this year compares to: 2014 / 2015 / 2016). It’s a quick and technically free—although a food donation is appreciated— thing to do on a chilly weekend afternoon, and by now it's definitely a tradition. We get diner breakfast—the best one within walking distance is the Square Diner—and wander through Brookfield Place, judging all of the sculptures and reminiscing on years past. Every year we agree that the first year was the best, but perhaps what we’re fondly remembering is the novelty or the emptiness of Brookfield Place.
Brookfield Place is essentially a large mall, and the changes over the years have been dramatic. It was nearly empty the first year but is now full of high-end retail, food and offices. This year was the 25th anniversary of Canstruction, NYC, a part of the (now) international non-profit that was founded in 1992.
Competitors come from the design and construction industries, and there are competitions held in 150 cities across the world. The sculptures are created entirely from canned goods, which are then donated to local food banks and relief organizations—more than 50 million pounds of food has been collected since Canstruction began.
My mom and I have realized over the years that a lot of the sculptures are more quickly identifiable when viewed through a camera lens or a phone screen—like a pointillism painting they can be hard to decipher from close-up. I love seeing what teams come up with each year, and some sculptures are topical, some are classics, and some are a bit of a snooze. I always appreciate the way people manage to work food or can puns into their titles, and while some are more successful than others, I’m still waiting for a team to top my all-time favorite, The Sta”tuna” of Liberty (although "Beauty and the Feast" came close this year).
From the top: pretzel, Pixar lamp, Pac CAN, jellyfish, subway train emerging from a tunnel, jack-o-lantern, Pokemon character (I forget which one), Popeye the Sailor CAN, "coexist" rainbow, triangle, Giving Tree, Fearless in the Face of Hunger, Beauty and the Feast, Duck Hunt, On Track to End Hunger, lotus flower, and Pining to End Hunger.