It was a rainy day across New York’s five boroughs — nothing new, considering a steel-studded sky had covered the Northeast for what seemed like a hundred years of glum. But unlike any of the dozen days before it, this day in June happily ended with a larger-than-life explosion of primary colors.

Approaching Madison Square Park from the 6-train station, I sloshed through several inches of water pooling in the folds of the avenues, wishing I’d worn my Wellies. The smell of diesel hung thick in the wet air, but as I entered the park, the Shake Shack’s charbroiled aroma drew me into the serpentine line of hungry lunchers (yes, even in the rain these burgers are worth the wait!).

And there it was — a red wall tall enough to keep out even the cleverest of hamburglars. Woven around the ginkgo and plane trees was a looming fortification that, from a distance, resembled a strategically lain fortress wall made of red mesh. Up close, the weavings reminded me of piles of my grandmother’s hand-crocheted dishrags lying in her kitchen cupboard.

I had entered the mystifying world of Orly Genger, the 34-year-old sculptor who repurposes used rope into jaw-dropping indoor and outdoor landscapes of mounds, walls, carpets and cubes. Her work — simultaneously rigid and fluid, macro and microcosmic — is held in collections at the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, to name just a few. She has erected her rope sculptures in prominent museums in Massachusetts, Florida and Indiana. And until September 8, her hometown is host to her latest masterpiece — Red, Yellow and Blue — at Manhattan’s Madison Square Park. Sponsored by Mad. Sq. Art, a free contemporary art program of Madison Square Park Conservancy , Genger’s frozen sea of rope, appropriated from the east coast lobster industry, is the largest park installation to date.

And how colossal it is!

Genger has created a scene befitting of Noah’s ark — had Noah chosen to fish: weighing 100,000 pounds, 1.4 million feet of rope winds and unwinds, spills, and hovers across three lawns. It took Genger and her team over two years to knot the rope into long bands and they used 3,500 gallons of paint to coat them in Heinz ketchup red, Catskills tarp blue, and French’s yellow mustard.

The most whimsical sculpture, appropriately situated adjacent to the children’s playground, is a circular wall with humps arising like Nessie from the verdant grasses. Coated with yellow paint (and weathered by, well, all that rain), the ropes are scaly like the skin of the magical sea monster. As if it weren’t a bit too tempting for tiny tots, there’s a sign noting “no climbing permitted.”

All three of Genger’s sculptures are broken circles — the openings dissolving into and emerging from the ground — that invite curious visitors to enter the walled space and peer through the trees only to discover the skyline walled not with granny’s crocheted cozies but with steel and glass and brick and marble. Such a stark juxtaposition raises societal and personal questions about the erection of walls — their durability, their flexibility, their inclusions and exclusions, and their permanence.

No doubt Red, Yellow and Blue will leave an indelible imprint on the park and its people long after it is deconstructed and later resurrected at the deCordova Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts in October 2013. And of all three, it may be Blue that lingers the longest — if only for its hue. For anyone who’s driven through the Catskill Mountains, two hours north of the city, the color is regrettably reminiscent of the ubiquitous blue tarps tethered to woodpiles and abandoned detritus — an eyesore tarnishing the lush greens of spring and the frosty whites of winter. At the furthest entrance to Madison Square Park, the obnoxious blue blight peaks through the trees, screaming, “See me! See me! I’m here! I’m here!”

And yet, despite the off-putting choice of color, Blue is not to be dismissed. Off Fifth Avenue, the curbed opening walls swell north and south into what resembles the belly of a whale. Opposite the opening is a collapsed exit — the walls to the ground, as if Jonah, with mighty strength, escaped from the belly of the beast. Reminiscent of some of Genger’s other outdoor installations such as Mr. Softy (Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut, 2005), the inner circle is carpeted with swatches of one-layer ropes — like the rectangular rag rugs woven and sewn together by women settlers and pioneers in the 19th and 20th centuries from repurposed materials.

Genger’s massive rope sculptures are counterpoised by her collaborative rope jewelry line with designer Jaclyn Mayer. The latest collection, MSP Orly Genger by Jaclyn Mayer, is inspired by Red, Yellow and Blue, and is showcased on Grey Area, a premiere online collective where “art is made functional and the functional is made art.” The gold accented red and yellow and blue bracelets, necklaces, and earrings, are a perfect nautical touch to a sail across Long Island Sound.

Represented by Larissa Goldston Gallery in Manhattan, Genger’s latest show, Iron Maiden, is a series of small-scale cast metal sculptures from rope and other materials that hint at superheroes from yesteryear. The show runs through June 22 at Pop-up Gallery, 530 West 24th Street.

Genger’s work — from the smallest knot to the loftiest wall, to the twinkle of hard metal, to the subtle geometry of the neckline — is an amazing feat for one who’s walked the earth for a little more than three decades. As for me, I’m glad I had the opportunity to walk through her roped world, even if in rain with a ketchup stain on my slicker.

I’m nearly certain you will be too.

Madison Square Park is located between Madison Avenue and 23rd Street in Manhattan. Pop-up Gallery is at 530 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011. For more information, call 212-206-7887.

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Featured image: Installation view of Orly Genger’s Red, Yellow and Blue (2013) in Madison Square Park. Photo by James Ewing / Courtesy of Madison Square Park Conservancy.