By Matthew Pitcher
There is a hidden gem in the Binghamton City Hall that dozens of people look past every day. Located in the second-floor Plaza Gallery is the modern art sculpture Confluence created by the late Charles Dalpiaz. For the everyday passerby, this construction blends into its concrete landscape, but to an artist’s eye, its bold appeal cannot be ignored.
The fire-engine red steel structure mimics our geographical landscape. Tall peaks on opposite ends represent the hills surrounding our rich valley. Looking down these slopes we see the horizon in the flat, level areas of the sculpture). Where the two flat ends merge, a ripple forms that appears to be our Rockbottom Dam, located not far from the meeting (or “confluence”) of Binghamton’s two rivers.
Dalpiaz’s wife, Louise, once said, “As the sculpture Confluence meanders through this main lobby, we are reminded of another meeting place, the meeting place of two great rivers – the Susquehanna and Chenango.”
Charles Dalpiaz designed Confluence in 1972 as an associate with the architectural firm Cummings & Pash. The firm was challenged when asked to provide nonconventional seating for the gallery area. Dalpiaz, 29, had the bright idea to design a tubular steel structure that would be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. “It is to be enjoyed in every way. To look at, to sit on, to put things on, even for children to play on,” he once said.
Confluence was Dalpiaz’s only public sculpture, but he is remembered by the countless building he helped design in the Binghamton area. Survived by his wife and three intellectual children, Dalpiaz was a humble, passionate renaissance man who loved all forms of art and enjoyed traveling around America to observe innovative architectural design with his family.
Although it has never been fully recognized, Confluence is a dynamic piece of art. Its strong form and bright color are fitting for the Plaza Gallery. The next time you’re in City Hall, look at it from a different perspective. Have a seat inside and enjoy the view.