Friday, December 07, 2012

Public Artwork on a Private Fence: Pt 1

One of the most elaborate projects I've worked on happened for me this year.

Machell's Commons  painted wood animals installed on a 20' stretch of private fence, facing a public park (with owner Klaus)

This project started in May and we wrapped it up mid-November. If you've ever doubted the power of showing your work as an artist at a farmers' market, well, without me doing that I would never have had the opportunity to work with Klaus Wehrenberg and to help bring his vision of creating some visual interest in an otherwise bland suburban environment. It was a delight for me all year long to hear his views on art and stimulating environments vs. what we have by default as there is precious little attention being given to this kind of stuff in our communities. Nevermind! We were out to do a little something about it.

At the back of Klaus' property is this fence. Here it is as it existed in May. This was our canvas.

Klaus showed me that he had already made a few artistic interventions by adding these mushroom shapes to the tops of the fenceposts, but he wanted more.

When I met Klaus in the market for the first time, he told me he had been searching for the right artist, one who could "do funny animals".
"Oh, I can do funny animals", I said.
In addition he was looking for an artist comfortable with colour.
Again, that works for me.

His concept was already well thought out. He really needed someone to help bring it into the world. After some discussion over what animals he would like to depict on the fence I did some preliminary drawings. Usually I just do a pencil sketch, but he needed full colour.

Once we were agreed, the next step was for me to make the paper templates in the true size of the finished character. I had 19 animals to create on paper. Klaus would then take my templates and cut them out of wood.

Here are some of the templates

Fast forward to late August. Here is the pile of wood critters ready to be primed before they can be painted. I have to say that when Klaus handed me the wooden figures the edges were superb. Turns out he's a woodworker with an expert touch. The edges were a thing of beauty, but functionally they were rounded to help facilitate the shedding of the rain (snow and ice) off all the surfaces.
 This project required that the wood be sealed as best we could since it is an outdoor installation. In addtion, one side of the wood was primed grey, one side white and all the washers and the heads of the bolts were also primed to protect from the weather. The UV rays are another kettle of fish. At least if things fade they will fade in unison.

Here are the rabbits before

and after being primed
Here's the back of the beaver showing  the primed washers too.

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

Awesome Katie! What a great piece to show off your work. You might even get more commissions like this one, who knows... Glory and fortune await for you. I'd say the news should pick that story up (you could send them a suggestion).

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