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Public Art

While still up in MT Jann had thought maybe I could create a big version of my rough tri-color Collie, Nora. When I returned to SLC Jann told me she had put Nora on the mural list, so to really make her. I liked the collage process, so after I finished Beckanne I drew up Nora to scale and banged out the collage. At this point I thought I was done. I had been working flat and this was the first time I’d hung it on the wall. I reworked her eyes, delineating the orbits which helped clarify her personality- not pictured.

I left the little clock face in her black saddle as a fun little detail.
Her nose is a dog head. One eye is a man’s head, as she is always keeping her alpha in sight. the other is a vase and fruit. Her mask is made of tophats.
The white tip of her tail is Cezanne, her legs are Degas.
Her ruff is a fluffy zoo of artists.

Both Nora and Beckanne will be digitally photographed and the entire mural of more than 200 people. They will be oddballs, as most are done in a “street art” method of 2-toning a photograph and making stencils to spray paint. All figures and portraits are then arranged as digital tiles, then it will all be printed out as an enormous banner and affixed to a building exterior here in SLC. The theme is a celebration of SLC women through history.

My friend Jann Haworth is leading a group-made mural (over 200 people involved). Years ago I helped get another group mural of hers in SLC started (when I was director of SLC’s youth arts programming), and did 5 figures on it: SLC Pepper. It was a re-imagination/update of her grammy award winning album cover for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Jann asked me to make one of the large figures for the front row of the new mural. I drew it out while in Montana at 2/3 life size, then had Kinko’s enlarge it to the mural jumbo scale.

A studio view of all the drawings leading up to and including the collage form. This view of the collage is the only shot that the camera didn’t distort the legs into tree trunks. When I dropped her off to Jann she confirmed that the photo had added at least 20 lbs.
Nearly 9 foot tall enlargement of the drawing on the R.
Beckanne Sisk of Ballet West, May 2013 She is now a (the) Principal dancer in the company.
I hung the image at the wrong angle, and tilted this image to about the correct gesture.
She is made from an Impressionism coffee-table book, and her hair is of Remington bronze figures.
E stands in for scale.
detail low. Cezanne, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Gauguin, Renoir
middle; same artists as above plus Cassat, Seurat, Remington,
The extended arm is all Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grande Jatte.

I just realized I did more work on her after this shoot, but anyway…Jann tells me it is “pure witchcraft”.

Sunday morning re-installation of Bonneville Upstream.

My friend Jed arrives with his handy trailer. This will make 21 fish he has helped me install.
Jed backed his twisty little trailer all the way inside the shop, all in one smooth line from the street. Impressive! The upright 2×4 is his steering guide.
I levitate the triple group of trout while Jed backs the trailer underneath.
Trout settle down, making ready for the next group.
Safety Comes When Man says, “Attach the hoist before freeing the sculpture.”
My neighbor, Chris, drops in to lend a hand. The three of us removed the trout months ago after their auto/ichthyes incident, and we will also put them back in.
Lashing down frisky fish for a ride through Sugarhouse.
We’ll be moving upstream about a mile, and trout need to move upstream to breath. This should wake them up from their long dormancy in the studio.
The Bean Whole fish transport; fueled by Jed’s craft-roasted coffee.

The rest of the morning was up at the intersection of 2100 S 1300 E, with the long turn lane still closed for street construction. This gave us a nice safe space to park and work from. The City’s public art coordinator, Kat Nix, brought hardhats and safety jackets for the guys, and pitched in with the work. The director of Salt Lake City’s Arts Council, Felicia Baca, also stopped in, joking around at how I used to be her boss back when I ran Global Artways for the City. After Jed and I had dug out the holes and installed the paired group into concrete footings, Chris made a quick trip up to help us lift the triple group into position and slurry in the concrete. Everything went swimmingly, and the trout are happily in the current again.

On-site at the intersection in the closed left turn lane. The spot just in front of the oncoming car is where they will go.
We have loosed the fish from their tie-downs, and they are ready to leap into place.
Kat keeps on eye on them while I get the fish food.
Professional fish wranglers, like Lion Tamers of yesteryear, know the essential function of a bristling manly mustache when confronting The Wild.
The pair-group jumps right into place and gets their treats.
The triple group jumps next, sassing for treats.
Jed and I stand about while the concrete cures.
They are excited to be back out in public again, among the rushing cars.
Once the concrete sets, we spread the soil and ground cover so everything looks tidy.
Another good day of fishing.

Yesterday the pair received stainless poles, today the triple got theirs.

Today I levitated the pole into position with my mind. Why didn’t I think of that sooner?
Triple with double poles. Welding took a bit more knowhow today; filling gaps between the sculpture and the pole by building up wide platforms with fat bead on the sculpture, then switching style for a strong connection to the stainless- all with the same too skinny rod, and always in an awkward crouch that makes running the foot pedal tricky.

This morning’s email had a message from the City; the shattered poles have been removed from the sculpture site and re-installation is game-on. Time to get the Trout on their new poles!

The shop becomes a fishbowl again. Time for the fish to sprout legs- stainless steel poles.
The clamps and rulers and sticks are how I establish Level & Vertical when the trout are suspended upright. Here they are suspended on their sides, with the stainless steel pipe aligned to the base of the stream hoops. I thread the pipe through ladders to establish Horizontal & Parallel from the upright measure of Level & Vertical.
Then the poles are welded in place. A bit more than half way around.
I welded the new pole to the original pole, after getting them to seat together. The force of the accident is apparent here, as the the old pipe is crushed up into the steambed form.
Almost flipped over enough to weld the underside of the pipe. The hoist was blocking the rotation, so down it came and the webbing was refit, then it lifted clear.
The pair is finished up and tied off to the float beam and its support leg, making space for the bigger group.
This rowdy bunch.
Rolled onto the side after establishing Vertical & Horizontal.
The force of the accident really pushed the bronze around. This is as close as it could come back, as the positioning of the trout are what hold the group together. The portion of pipe to the left will be cut at an angle to butt up the adjoining pipe in alignment with Horizontal & Parallel. Tomorrow.
The pair is cleaned and waxed.

All welds, road rash & dings, car paint & rubber bumper transfer have been turned back to fish skin and stream stones with grasses.

After adding in new patina at welds and dings, the sculpture is left to warm in the sun. Once toasty, I paint on a layer of clear wax, let it cool, and buff it off. Then warm it in the sun again. This view shows the rear fin’s weld to the hoop, and the front fin’s weld to a stream stone.
Another view of the front fin connected to a stream stone. A tan stone behind the fin is making it a bit visually confusing.
The rear fin from the opposite side. This weld is the only connection to this stream hoop, so it is hefty all the way around.
This fin had been ripped nearly off, and was clapped against the fin on the other side.
The third main anchor weld is the fin connection to the front hoop. A section of the stainless pipe is visible under the rear hoop, it’s weird angle shows the force of the impact. It will be cut away and replaced.
Happy to be clean and waxed, the pair will return to the studio to wait next to their stainless steel poles.
The knocked apart pair finally were released for me to reassemble.
They had some boo-boos.
And they had some ouchies.
Magical salmon glow underlays all fish welds.
There were three broken welds that joined the two fish. One.
Two.
Three.
The fish are tied down to my new hand truck, awaiting patination fix.
Swimmingly is how they are doing.
This is a recurring nightmare for a dented bumper somewhere out there.

The trout are all finished out. When last we saw them, they were undergoing reconstructive surgery from their car attack. Since then I set a new cold patina to etch and seal the naked bronze, then went about color matching. They are all dolled up with patina renewed, and the entire form cleaned and waxed. When their sister pair is released from police evidence, I’ll finish out that set, then add new stainless steel mounting poles to both sets.

The fishies are ready for inspection: welded, chased, color matched.
Feeling swimmingly.
Reconstructive surgery was successful!
A view of the opposite side.
This was the side with the long dent that I pounded out from the inside.
There are two tiny perfect triangles stamped low in his brow, cool scars he wanted to keep, cuz he’s a tough guy who’s lived a rough and tumble life; fought a car and won.
This hoop belongs to the pair still in police holding. The near side had been bent toward us, ripping the metal open on the inside. I bent it back into place with a come-along, then welded, chased, and color matched it.
Feelin’ streamy. The bronze spot (with grasses covering it from above) is where the fish mounts via weld.

Triple digit heat finally let off today, allowing triple trout triage. The double trout set is still held as evidence in the City’s court proceedings with the driver that smashed into them, but I thought I’d get started on the big triple group. The car had slid up and over the front fish of the group, gouging in many deep lines along both sides of the fish and worse, pushing a big running dent.

The long running dent
Backfilling the dent with weld is one solution, another is drilling a hole at the bottom and on the opposite side; for pounding it back in shape from the inside.
Hammer Hits: Pounding rod / 20 hits, then hit hand. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Slooowly the metal reshapes.
Looks about like the other side- nearly new!
Scrapes and dent removed, down to shiny fish skin.
Big scratches on the opposite side are blended out as well. Plus, the hammerin’ hole is backfilled and smoothed over.
The hammerin’ hole on the chest is welded closed and chased out as well.
A snapped weld joining the fish to the stream hoop gets fixed. The fish is amazed!
I clear the bronze and put on a chemical base layer. This etches the bronze and seals it.
Now I’ll have to match the patina, then clean and wax the group.
They will wait to get their new stainless steel poles until the City gives me the other group, and I’ll add poles to both groups at the same time.
I got this WTF text from my buddy Jed yesterday evening. This iteration of Bonneville Cutthroat were installed way back in 2009 at a busy intersection. The lead pair were knocked clean off, taking a hoop with them. The rear three are all intact, with the rear pole snapped off at the weld-line. The free-swimming pair were netted by a good citizen and are likely in police custody as evidence (thats where my Quail resided while charges were brought against his vandal kidnapper, years ago).
The sawzall did quick work, though I only had a few old blades and went through them both, and went through my freshly charged battery and onto the spare. Not enough charge or blade left to take the single hoop as well, but it isn’t much of a temptation for metal thieves, and I’ll come back for it.
Safely back in the shop by dusk.
This is a sheared weld that connected the sculpture to the stainless steel pipe.

The busy intersection the fish reside at has a street fully closed for construction, and so the turn lane adjacent to the sculpture is blocked off. E and I headed up to have a look, parking in the closed turn lane. One of two poles held the group of fish, the other having sheared at the weld line, and of the missing pair one pole still held a battered/torn hoop. Two cuts and it could all be gone. E worked her way along the City phone tree ’til we connected with the new director of the city’s arts council. She told me the accident happened Monday-ish, the missing fish were recovered by a witness to the accident. She has been waiting to call me, as there are many plates in the air on how to handle this one. I was concerned it would be easy pickings for metal thieves, and she gave me the green light to remove it. My pal Jed said he would help, as did my neighbor- who also offered up his work van, as it has a much lower gate than the truck and those fish are heavy. E watched his two kids and brought Nora over to his house (our week of storms was beginning and Nora has her issues with weather).

We parked the big van in the closed turn lane as Jed arrived. The group of three fish was my primary concern, and one pole needed to be cut away. I’d put a battery on the charger as soon as E & I had returned from our recon mission, by the time I had permission and a crew together it had charged and I snapped it onto the sawzall while popping on a used blade and bringing my spare (also used) and my second battery. And the most important tool that I can’t ever stress enough: Cestus Vibrex gloves (if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be able to type this). The first blade made it about half way before glowing red as its teeth smoothed off. The second blade nearly made it through before the battery was spent (a new blade would have taken off both posts on the one battery in half the time…). Not enough blade or battery to take off the remaining hoop, but it isn’t much of a temptation to thieves, and I’ll recover it soon enough.

It’s always surprising how heavy big heavy things are. We muscled the group of three fish and hoops into the back of the van, drove the few blocks home, and unloaded it into the shop. The guys went home and I called the arts director to let her know how we had faired. Just then there was knock at the door, and it was my neighbor and his young daughter with two police officers. The police had been flooded with calls from people waiting at the light as we pulled the piece, and a citizen had subtly followed us back home and given the police all the deets. This really cheered me up. I’ve had my work trashed 4 times now including my best and favorite work, Orpheus and Eurydice, stolen by metal thieves and shredded for scrap. This is the only time a sculpture has been damaged by accident. I handed the phone over to an officer and he spoke with the director briefly, and everything checked out.

I’ll recover the remaining hoop on my own today, and hold them all for the City while the process of how to proceed shakes itself out. (I used a new-to-me type of sawzall blade, $10 for a single blade; it took about 10 seconds to light-saber through the 2 inch stainless steel sch40 pole. Faster than a cutoff wheel.)