Group Dedication

July 1, 2018

As i take a Sunday to relax on the couch and do as little as possible, i catch a television commercial that states “at this minute, 72,000 people are hating their jobs”. Like most people, i have had a job or two that i would just as soon go to the dentist than do another shift. I had a short underemployment stint following graduate school where i scheduled visits to the V.A. just to get a day off.

Fortunately, i have landed in a very nice place that i don’t hate. It is actually the opposite. I love going to work each day. The reason is not just because it is in my field of study, or because i work in a place that is synonymous with fun. Actually, it is a true NFP receiving no government funds or any tax based contracts so the pay is nothing to write home about. Often in a NFP, employees wear many hats and have a mastery of operating a wide variety of functions that larger profit based organizations have individual positions for the same requirements.

With extra responsibilities, many times extra hours are required. Government regulators do not care if you do not have a full time H.R. Specialist, a Safety Officer, or Public Affairs. In the world of NFP organizations, everyone steps up and fills in these important roles.

Add in a major event- large fundraiser, public event, facility upgrade, capital campaign, or a major expansion. With a small but dedicated staff (and volunteers and sometimes board members) everyone adapts to pull off a successful event.

My current organization is nearing the finish line on a 14 month major expansion. I am amazed daily as i do my rounds and notice things that were completed since my last walk through. Many in our organization have stepped up and went far beyond what could reasonably be expected by such a lean organization. People from Education doing landscaping, weekend customer service staying late to paint, Operations sourcing plants, furniture, & contractors. Hell, our executive director has been helping move exhibits and filling in every time someone needs a hand. We also lucked out by having a Site Superintendent that invested himself in our mission and has far exceeded “other duties as assigned.” For that matter everyone has. Employees have put their families and personal activities on hold many times and worked late- as in like another shift late. People have returned at night for lighting design. Employees have brought multiple changes of clothes to insure proper attire and plan for the possibility of being roped into a hot sweaty task. Individuals have worked with flashlights and headlamps into the night to insure that landscaping will be finished. No matter what, every morning education comes in early to get the next day started.

Many days lately, we have had people in our building from 6:00am until the last of the clean up crew leaves at 11:00pm (save for flooring nights that they stay until three).

What does this unending dedication get you? We have cleared land, built a building, built an airfield, installed a helicopter (yes, a real one), built a police car, converted a police SUV to play in, oversaw the design and installation of 22 interactive exhibits, negotiated another land grant, upgraded current facilities, implemented policy, operations, and safety policies, landscaped a couple of acres, and developed educational plans to apply all of this to our mission of being a nationally recognized Art and Science museum for children.

This has literally been a journey of blood, sweat, and tears. I only hope that other organizations find the chance to see what a massive amount of dedication can result in. It has been a wonderful experience and i hope to do this again.

If you find yourself crossing throughCentral Illinois on I-72, heading south on US-51, or even cruising through Springfield on old Rt. 66, take time to swing over to Decatur and check out the lake! See what happens when an old industrial town is forced to accept economic realities and the people come together to make something nice. Like the Zoo, or Pier 36 Marina, or the amphitheatre, the minigolf, ropes course, water park, expanded narrow gauge train, a sculpture park, or our humble children’s museum. Bet you can’t do it all in one day!

J. E. Sandy Sandberg

#bestjobever #nowdecatur #cmofil #sandysandberg #sandbergcreative

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The Power of Falling Short

November 19, 2017

Graduate School taught me to “Fail” regularly. I often told myself that in the “real” world that I would have the tools to not fail. I would set goals and keep knocking them out. Great joy comes from lining through a completed item on a list. Just over a year ago, I got a “real” job back in my field. I began as the Director of Museum Experiences at Children’s Museum of Illinois. Life has taught me to take an advantage of that first day of work, while energy is high to write every thought, goal, message, personal notes to self down on my legal pad. The first task of not failing has to be documenting everything that needs accomplished!

One of the phrases that my Executive Director shared with me on my first day, was “Make people’s experiences awesome.” I held on to that quip as I felt it was very honest and a bit vaporous. Over the course of a year, I referred back to it often when I found myself in a quandary about how to proceed forward with an element of some object. Should I find myself “failing”, this phrase would help re-calibrate my course. At the end of the first week, I had created a list- a long list- a long list with half-crazy unattainable goals to use my ability as a creative to put my stank all over this museum.

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Crane Day event in conjunction with O’Shea Builders and BLDD Architects. 15 Nov 2017.

My lofty goals included repainting every wall in the 15,000 sq.ft. facility. Inventory, and reset the maintenance shop, install 3-4 new exhibits, repair every broken exhibit piece in the museum, establish Standard Operating Procedures, an OSHA approved safety program… I am serious. The list went on like a runaway letter to Santa. All of the way to the “5-year plan.” Glad I did not over-do it.

 

I started right in on the first exhibit installation. It was a rather new purchase that had been sitting idle in a classroom awaiting a permanent installation. Maintenance immediately painted the entire wall that it was to be installed on. Electrician ran wiring. I designed, cut and applied all of the graphics. worked some late nights and BOOM! -first exhibit down. That was also the last exhibit to go smooth. By our first event, an excited group of 7-year old kids found a flaw in the design. They learned that if you smack it hard enough, all of the parts will fall to the inside. The following Monday was spent with our new Maintenance worker, uninstalling the brand new exhibit so that we could make modifications. I have learned in the Children’s Museum world, that “modification” is a commonly used word. There are other popular words that are used on Monday mornings I will exclude those from this post. In short, kids are stronger than one may think.

20170303_091942_HDR.jpg     Late winter found me trudging along- still positive, still updating parts for special events, developing exhibit upgrades, working toward awesome. A detail that I have yet to mention is about the “5-year plan.” The first week of my employment, my Executive Director called me in her office and basically asked if I could alter that to a “1-year plan!” [spew hot coffee now] Yes, sure I told her. I still remember the day. It was late November and raining. I was wearing fancy clothes walking around the property measuring to find the best way to expand the facility. As I sat at my desk feeling the water weep through my fancy clothes and shoes, I sketched. I measured, drafted, colored, and drew multiple ideas until I had a workable design.

20170804_114517.jpg    Meanwhile, we received a grant to build out a new Toddler area in our museum. I thought, no problem, I will build this in house to make the most out of awesome. Then another grant came through to build a previously conceived exhibit, then a collections exhibit that had been in the works, then a giant eyeball. Somewhere during that craziness, our “5-year plan” that turned into a “1-year plan” was awarded funding by a very generous donor. [face palm, up eyebrow, head shake]

At a few points (like building a 1/2 scale train engine in my home studio) I thought I was going to lose my brain. My days were spent doing director stuff, then I would come home at night and work on exhibits in my studio. My amazing wife actually served lunch to me one Sunday in the cab of the toddler train engine. I always tell myself that this is what makes awesome. And you know that the opposite of awesome is failure.

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Early rendering of Heroes Hall Expansion. Courtesy BLDD Architects/Chastain & Associates.

Fast forward to last week. I hit my One-year mark and somewhere between meeting with our Construction Manager and ordering custom parts for the local college, I thought that I should take note of what actually did happen in the last year. Two weeks prior, I had just met with my Right-hand-Maintenance Lady discussing how many walls were still left to be painted before she took some time off.

In contrast with the many remaining items on the list, I looked back at those job folders that returned to the file cabinet because they made it off of a list. We ended up installing 6 exhibits in a year. This is a rate of about one every 10 weeks. A safety program has been implemented and our facility is up to code. We have an updated color palette that is being reflected in about 90% of the building. Outreach has been increased and we have started developing traveling exhibit pieces to enhance our rental catalog. We are in the process of adding 7000 sq.ft. of exhibit space. (first floor pours next week) Our land lease has also been extended by about 15,000 sq.ft. for future exhibit development. Most of our changes will become very obvious over the next few months.

I often read articles posted by The International Institute for Failure Studies to get my bearings on the idea of failing. Andrew Salyer highlights unique juxtapositions as to what is referred to as a failure. At times, I feel like I work for Ice Road Truckers while gremlins toss random appliances in front of me. After stepping back to reflect, I have realized that you never stop failing. You just find creative challenges to questions that you did not ask. If I could provide one ounce of productive value for this post it would be: Scratching tasks off of a list can be very rewarding. It may seem that we are falling short because we see that The to-do list is still there, so throw those completed tasks in a jar. Weigh what is completed with what remains on the list. Now, to finish painting those last couple of walls…

 

STEAM

December 22, 2016

As always, I get busy with the hands on parts of my life and run late doing things like…blogging. I told you this summer that I was brewing up a program to promote STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math).I had just secured a group of websites for “steamworks.” I had recently secured a handful of websites with the name “steamworks” and felt that I had to brand this and investigate learning practices.

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How many times have you heard the story about the Uncle that could fix anything? It always starts the same: “When Frank was young, he would take apart anything he got his hands on.” With a reply from the Uncle explaining that by deconstructing household items, gave him the knowledge and confidence to make/fix/repurpose things. This spurred me to tinker with the idea of “no instructions needed(R).”

I began by locating a venue while developing a two day learning program. The tie-in was “STEAM” so I chose a standardised model railroad element to introduce kids to the concept of STEAM while actually applying it. After hitting up some area businesses for funding, I put together a package for each participant that included a modular wooden base kit, an N-scale (1:160) railcar and some random details. Now, we could have set around and followed the instructions and worked as a class to get everything built at once, mount their track and off they went. But, what would they learn? As they opened their module kits, I collected everyone’s instruction sheets. I informed them that they would not need them and threw them away. Instead, they were provided with blueprints and standards for a final product. They immediately began to experiment and figure out how to build their base modules. As some finished, they assisted the other participants to keep the whole class moving forward. When their wooden modules were 20161112_113841complete, they had to choose from a random box of N-Scale track pieces to come up with the exact final measurements for their required module. All of a sudden, the class was waist deep in rulers, calculators, digital calipers, hammers and power drills. This is the magic that I live for! Skipping ahead, after the second class, parents had looks of amazement on their faces. I am not sure if it was the fact that their children were adept at using math and power tools or the fact that someone let me do this in public.

20161203_102328After class one, the kids got to choose paint and landscape details to take home with them while they prepared for the final reveal. During this time, I accepted a new position for a Children’s Museum because I did not have enough going on in life! More on that later…

On December 3rd, our Steamworks team reconvened at Blue Mound Memorial Library to set up their finished works while visitors came to see Mr. & Mrs. Claus. After twenty minutes of set-up and minor tweaking, the children had two steam engines pulling train cars around the 3′ x 7′ assembled layout. It is also of note that gender had no influence on the participants or the visitors. Everyone fought the same to get their time running each train.

I would like to send out a special thank you to our local supporters of the program:

Blue Mound Firefighters Association, Legacy Grain, Dippin’ Merv’s, Castle Trains & Treasures, Blue Mound Memorial Library. With you, these local children gained skills and confidence that can be used as they seek out their careers in a few years.

Virginia Bound…

July 29, 2016

First, some quick updates on this past spring: We have been working with industrial furniture. Rescued an old Science class table and gave it some Sandberg Creative love. It now lives in Dallas, TX. Spent the early spring selling old school lockers and keeping a few for my own studio. Spare time has include finishing up on some random art pieces. (Industrial-Joman Teapot) (Small problems #1)

Early June, I took a planned research trip to Virginia. It was an overdue trip as my list of subjects and places in Virginia had grown to excess by the time I set out. After a couple of days and several hundred miles in my travels, I met up with a friend from college, Manda Remmen and we went on a mission to check out some of the sites photographed by O. Winston Link. (our most alluring part of the mission was trying to identify the bell tower from Link’s sounRural Retreatd piece “Rural Retreat.” We found a good candidate but will have to dig deeper.  I took many reference photos along the way as I was also researching architecture along the Pre-1964 Norfolk and Western Railway mainline. After a quick tour to the start of the Bristol “Virginia Creeper” line and miles of trekking along  highway 81, we finally found where Elvis had stopped to pee. We toured around Emory and Henry college, where my friend teaches art. They actually still have been using the original N&W depot for various administrative departments. After some local fare, we settled down to discuss the days findings. In the morning, I took off on a rambling trip toward Roanoke. At Roanoke, I checked out the Virginia Museum of Transportation. This museum, with VERY DEDICATED staff and volunteers accomplished the highly complicated (and expensive task) of restoring a steam engine to operate pretty much as it was built through their fireup611 campaign. I have to admit that I am a bit nostalgic about the locomotive Class “J” 611 as I have childhood memories attached to this engineering marvel. The VMT was one of my most anticipated stops on the trip but I was somewhat let down. Overall, I liked it and am very glad that I went. On the other hand, I felt like many of the exhibits were very aged. I believe that at one point I found a “click tape” label on one of the older displays. If they do another capital campaign, I would love to direct the exhibits department to help create a modern, interactive group of exhibits for all ages. I understand how funding streams work, and wish that they could uncover other streams to help bring other areas of the museum up to the quality of their steam program. For instance, the children’s area which was located at the far end of the railroad platform in dirty sand by an old storage shed. No one would even be able to see their children if they were brave enough to let them stay there. I would have felt more comfortable allowing my kids to play on splintered, rusted railroad detritus than the out dated playground equipment that was present.

After a long day at VMT, I was pushing time but decided to squeeze my visit to the O. Winston Link museum back in to my itinerary. After entering the former Norfolk & Western Depot and paying my entry fee, I walked down the glass walled staircase to the museum on the lower level. upon entry, I was welcomed by a floor-to-ceiling 20-foot black and white wall print of one of Link’s prints wallpapered down the hall. How glorious! This museum was done right! multiple prints, physical exhibits, sound pieces and collections. It was refreshing to see a museum that I felt like I new the artist by the end. I was traveling with him emotionally on a 6 year journey of time tables, late nights and friends that trusted in him the passion that he was trying to document.  After visiting, I do feel that it may have been skewed toward adults, and a bit safe as museums go. I would have loved to see a digital room with props that kids and adults could attempt to light and photograph. Overall, it was well done and very much worth the last minute addition to my time in Roanoke.

After a bit of BBQ, I began my journey up highway 80 toward Front Royal, VA just outside of D.C. The morning held a unique experience that would flood back childhood memories. Months prior to my trip, I had purchased tickets to ride the Norfolk and Western Class J #611. As a child, the Norfolk & Western/ Norfolk Southern would use this rescued locomotive to carry the brass on summer trips around the Eastern half of the U.S. As a child, when we heard the 611 was coming through, we would head several blocks across town to my Grandparent’s house by the Decatur to STL mainline. We would wait for hours until we could hear the distinct bellow from the “Queen of Steam” and listen to it build until it broke out of town and barreled south across the prairie. These feelings boiled back up into me as I waited at 6:00am for the newly restored 611 to pull into Front Royal.FullSizeRender

Nursing a hangover from a convenient club across from the depot, I sucked it up and searched for a location to get a decent video. I began to hear the distinct low notes of the J’s whistle as it was rounding through town toward the station.  It would be a fine time to note that a high-pressured “Modern” steam locomotive that was built to operate 20 car trains at 80mph, has very little in common with our childhood sense of a “choo choo.” As a J approaches you, the breathing of such a beast becomes alive to you. the “chuffs” of it’s enormous cylinders feel like small explosions. The soot and steam inundate you as it slowly powers by you and a blast of the whistle is enough to cancel out the speaker in your cell phone. As the cacophony of pounding, hissing, vibrating, and squealing passed behind the parking garage I hustled down to my car, the Ohio, and boarded. In a few minutes we began moving. It was anti-climatic as riding behind a Class J was just as smooth and quiet as a modern Amtrak. I would forget that I was riding behind a 75 year old piece of American forged machinery that could shake the fillings out of your teeth if it were not for the occasional glimpse of the locomotive out of the window when gliding around the Appalachian curves.

Next month, I will be talking about another kind of steam: the STEAM kind. so put on your teacher/Learner hats and check back for the new programs that we are currently developing at Sandbergcreative that may be coming to a Learning Center near you!

 

Peace, Art, & Education

New Show

March 1, 2016

Hello, friends! Last weekend found me taking a relaxing though scheduled drive to the Saint Louis Metro area to deliver new artwork. The pieces are a diptych of two 24″ X 36″ “airscapes” done in acrylic on wood. Yes, I do make two-dimensional artwork! I often find that some of my sculptures are too large for some venues and over the last couple of years I have begun finishing some of my sculptural ideas so that they can be displayed as well. The title of the diptych is Air to Air Porn Remix. I sometimes spend too much time on titles but this one is different as the title reflects the history of the piece. In Graduate School at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, it was a house cleaning every year that a graduating class moved out leaving friends with loads of artwork of varying degrees of finish for their friends. One of my good friends, Justin Maes awarded me with some large wood A-A Porn Close-upcanvasses depicting military individuals in compromising positions. They were very beautiful to look at but the content makes them quite hard to display. Justin was always remixing artwork and music, producing his own tracks in Grad School to accompany some of his works. two years ago, with little money to buy food, let alone canvas, I chose to do my own remix. For two pieces, I chose to paint over the figures with various shades of blue depicting the upper atmosphere. I then placed paper planes engaged in a dogfight, launching phallic salt and pepper shakers at each other. I feel that the content of the original piece still comes through but in a very different way. Over time, I will probably do at least one more set of paintings based on Justin’s paint-outs. More paper airplanes could be involved. Not sure, but they keep coming back repeatedly in my work as I dig deeper into the connections between, violence, beauty, war fighting, heroism, toys, and patriotism. So, if you are in the STL area, check out the show at Saint Charles Community College! March 7th – April 8th.

Talk soon,

Sandy

Cinema 7

November 25, 2015

So, here are a couple of pics of the Cinema 7 sign that I made for my good friends Eric and Rachel Smith. The body is made out of 3/4″ marine grade plywood. It is painted in Tuscan Red enamel paint. The gold is 24k paint outlined with old-school black enamel sign paint.

Cinema in procThe perimeter was fitted with Aluminum roll stock. The number insert was milled and fitted with clear plexi. I made a somewhat complicated system to bore the holes to accept year-round holiday lights from Target. After a 30 degree chamfer on top, I cold forged brass grommets to match the underside of the bulbs and seat in the holes.

Cinema1After repairing and repainting the steel letters, I used a vintage motor and roller system out of an old beer light to make the rays vibrate behind the number 7. In it’s final rendition, the number 7 was translucent white on a black background. All wiring was UL listed and minimum connections made to insure safety and proper operation. We had previously installed a French Cleat on the concrete wall to accept the sign in a simple manner. This was a fun and enjoyable project and has given me ideas for the idea of the lighted marquis. I am now thinking of what things are so important in our world that we should put it up on a marquis to draw blatant attention to it. I am sure that you could think of some issues that deserve “silver screen promotion.”

Making Stuff…again

November 24, 2015

It is far too easy to get focused on “things” in life and forget to stand back and document what has been going on. I promise (maybe in a pre-resolution) that I will start updating regularly now that my new website is running. First, a quick catch up on what has been going on:

After moving around the U.S. for a bit, I used my available time for some “friend” work that needed catching up. At the top of the list was my friend Eric’s basement of his new house. The canvas was a 1300 sq.ft. basement with 10′ ceilings that he wanted to look like an East Coast “speak easy.” I began with faux painting 52oo bricks (on concrete cast walls) to look like 100 year old wood fired bricks. While I designed a late colonial bar, back bar, and paneling from quarter sawn oak, he used acid to finish the concrete floors in a copper-ish tone. Since then, it has been a work in progress. I hand painted a Victorian era advertisement for his pub (Station #7) on one of the brick end walls. We had discussed a theatre add for the opposing wall where his projector was set up. Meanwhile my friend, Eric, married a designer. With her collaboration, we narrowed in the focus with a very industrial spin on Colonial design. For the entertainment end of the space, we decided on a vintage cinema sign complete with incandescent glove lights with motorized optics. As the wiring is finally getting finished, we are discussing finishing the back bar with a salt water aquarium and a copper bar top. The space has been finished with vintage signs and Edison bulbs. The bar seats 15 patrons, and has full amenities including a popcorn popper.

While doing the Station 7 project, I had a piece in the Ossuary show by Laurie Beth Clark at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, as well as the Herron Gallery in Indianapolis. It was a silver necklace displaying five silver bullets that had the firing primers replaced with black onyx. It was part of my ongoing research of populations using war detritus as objects of function and beauty. I would suggest reading The Sex Lives of Cannibals by Maartin Troost. Not just for the small references of Pacific Islands using left over combat materials as playgrounds for children, but because it is disturbingly funny.

#HIDJS_ArtOfCan

On a threat from my Wife, (girlfriend at the time) I decided to enter the Red Bull sculpture contest in 2014. I had been working on a piece and after committing, I did a run for 60 hours straight to finish the piece. With no time left to ship, I caught three hours sleep and took the train to Chicago for the initial judging. When asked about return shipping, I told them that they could discard the piece after the judging. Two days later, I received an email telling me that it was accepted to the final show Art of Can. Wow, OK! So I booked two more tickets on Amtrak and we shot up to Millennium Park for the show where Red Bull Corp. had set up a glass gallery in the middle of the park. It was a great reception with many perks and swag. I found it a bit crazy that I was slaving away at a “real” job during the day, sculpting at night, then less than a month later, we were partying it up on a Chicago rooftop until 4:00am. By the way, I got zero votes as Red Bull mislabeled my Twitter vote from #HEDJS to #HIDJS. Instead of letting people vote for my piece it directed them to a Twitter sight for a group called “HI DJ’s.” Oh, well, still a great time!

Next post, I will put up images for the creative types as I know that all of these words can sometimes be a bore. Be sure to check out sandysandbergcreative.com or sandbergcreativeservices.com  contact me if you are interested in industrial looking exhibit work.

Peace!

Upcoming Show & New Website

February 13, 2012

Hello, friends! As I write this, one of my friends is working on my new website. After months of arguing with a yahoo holding company in New Zealand about who owned my name, I decided to start fresh with a new website. Same address as the old one but hyphenated. Keep checking this month and you will start to see my work pop up there. sandberg-creative.com

Meanwhile, I am trying to put some final focus on the work for my MFA show in April. A final show seems akin to steering a barge through the lower Mississippi. I am almost to the gulf- just trying to line my vessel up for that last steer-point. From there it is full throttle forward!

Just to keep things exciting, I have been working on a grant project with the Milwaukee Art Museum for the closing of their Tool At Hand show. I have been doing a side project for the last year building tool  boxes for children and working with them to give them skills and confidence. As the project stands currently, the kids attending the  closing will come in to a studio classroom, select parts to build a tool box, hammer it together and stamp information on the blank panels. The boxes all slot together like the old wood dinosaur skeletons. The parts are made from recycled cabinet scraps from Drift Studio in Mt. Horeb, WI. After assembly, they can choose stamps that say “property of _____” , a scaled ruler, nail sizing chart, or a graphic decimal equivalent chart. We are currently working out the details of time and number of kids for the program, but I think this will be great. Since Milwaukee all but stripped Art and the Industrial Arts from their school system, I will feel good that I am introducing a couple of hundred kids to handcraft.

October 18, 2011

As installed on SIUE campus

This is the Enemy!

It has been a busy autumn! The new season began with a trip to Dubuque, Iowa to repair Sinking of the S.S. Innocence. One of the red “kill pegs” was broken off. I had a local manufacturer roll 11-gauge steel to replace all of the pegs. I then welded them directly to the base of the sculpture. It was one of the most beautiful drives I have been on in a while. I suggest to everyone to include the “Driftless” Region of Southwestern Wisconsin if you are ever in the area.
I began the semester trying to locate a specific machine gun to create an art piece that has occupied my brain for some time now. After much stress, I secured the weapon, materials, and a place to fire it. The first part of the series was in the show “Exchange” at the Mosse Humanities building in Madison.
At the Children’s Museum in town, we finally finished the Rockit! exhibit. It is awesomely stellar! Kids are loving it. One can climb in the capsule and just play while ambient music is playing. For older kids, there is a learning curve allowing one to control the beats, melodies and sound effects to create their own songs. It was a long hard year that included two back spasms and one trip to the hospital for a butterfly bandage and a tetanus shot. De-constructing an aluminum airplane and retro-fitting it to accept a new array of electronics and wiring is a head bumping, finger- slicing hair full of drill shavings type of event. It is very nice to see it installed. I would also like to thank my team: Dan Ganch (fabrication), Nadia Niggli (Graphics), The crew from Sony Creative Software, and Matt from NuVibrations for pulling all of the systems together.
On another note, I have been feeling like Richard Serra lately. (not in the famous aspect) There is a group of individuals trying to get a sculpture of mine removed from a park adjacent to their property. The sculpture was formerly installed on the campus at Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville. It was originally funded through a grant from the Gateway Foundation in St. Louis. After its time was up, I contacted my hometown to see if they were interested in it. Blue Mound is a village of 1200 polite Midwesterners that live in an agricultural community. They had recently formed a park district to manage the swim club and the towns two parks. One park contains the following items: Outdoor theater and covered stage, children’s playground, water fountain, pavilion, WWI canon, bathrooms, sidewalks, gates and landscaping. The other park contains: a scattering of trees, and a stream. I proposed that it be placed in the park that had nothing so that people would have something to look at. It is my wish that others would embrace the park and ask the district to move forward with making it a real park. The little “Madison-esque” world that I live in envisions park benches, some winding trails, park benches, a small playground, and a couple of bridges spanning the creek. But there are some problems. Step one, getting a piece of art in the park happened. There was some talk of possibly getting benches and one neighbor told me that they should have a block party at the park. That was the end of the rainbows and unicorns. A couple of residents started filing complaints that the sculpture was ugly, it was reducing the value of their home, and reducing their income as they stared out the window for hours on end deciding how to get the art removed from the park.
Here is what I think the truth is: There are three housing additions adjoining this park. One is a middle class tract on one side of the park. The opposite side has a back addition of very nice homes, with a small front tract of lower rent apartments with one building including Government Subsidized Housing. Due to proximity and a shared road, the Social Class A and C have learned to live with each other. The complaints seem to be coming from the Social Class B side of the park. I believe that they do not want the park developed, because people may actually come use it. I believe that they see the stream as a moat protecting them from “poor” kids getting too close to their property. They claim that it is a flood plain. Yes, and so is the rest of the area. Central Illinois farm country is one of the flattest landscapes in the nation. We know how to properly develop watershed areas now. Since the stream is actually a field run-off waterway, maybe it would be a good time to use a section of this park as an educational experiment that provides good in a variety of ways.
Last week, I was contacted by the Park District asking if I wish for the piece to stay or go. I contacted them sharing my reasons on why art is good, why we develop parks, how that helps children, families, home values, and such for their Monday night meeting. There was also a presentation by one of the board members based on Scientific Research in Virginia showing social and economic benefits of public sculpture.
The leader of the “Remove the Sculpture” organization emailed me today. It was a 9 point, two page email telling me all of the reasons that they hated my sculpture. Which by the way is a twelve foot tall thumbtack painted green that uncomfortably imitates the surrounding trees. They compared it to living next to a livestock farm, alluded to the possibility of erecting something on their property to block the view or maybe even suing to have it removed. The homeowner’s girlfriend told me in shocking detail about the fateful morning that they woke up and saw ART lingering in a city park!
The angry lady told me that we should spend less time making art and educating people in the humanities and more time raising children right and going to church!
AMEN!

Art Updates

October 18, 2011

It has been a busy autumn! The new season began with a trip to Dubuque, Iowa to repair Sinking of the S.S. Innocence. One of the red “kill pegs” was broken off. I had a local manufacturer roll 11-gauge steel to replace all of the pegs. I then welded them directly to the base of the sculpture. It was one of the most beautiful drives I have been on in a while. I suggest to everyone to include the “Driftless” Region of Southwestern Wisconsin if you are ever in the area.
I began the semester trying to locate a specific machine gun to create an art piece that has occupied my brain for some time now. After much stress, I secured the weapon, materials, and a place to fire it. The first part of the series was in the show “Exchange” at the Mosse Humanities building in Madison.
At the Children’s Museum in town, we finally finished the Rockit! exhibit. It is awesomely stellar! Kids are loving it. One can climb in the capsule and just play while ambient music is playing. For older kids, there is a learning curve allowing one to control the beats, melodies and sound effects to create their own songs. It was a long hard year that included two back spasms and one trip to the hospital for a butterfly bandage and a tetanus shot. De-constructing an aluminum airplane and retro-fitting it to accept a new array of electronics and wiring is a head bumping, finger- slicing hair full of drill shavings type of event. It is very nice to see it installed. I would also like to thank my team: Dan Ganch (fabrication), Nadia Niggli (Graphics), The crew from Sony Creative Software, and Matt from NuVibrations for pulling all of the systems together.
On another note, I have been feeling like Richard Serra lately. (not in the famous aspect) There is a group of individuals trying to get a sculpture of mine removed from a park adjacent to their property. The sculpture was formerly installed on the campus at Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville. It was originally funded through a grant from the Gateway Foundation in St. Louis. After its time was up, I contacted my hometown to see if they were interested in it. Blue Mound is a village of 1200 polite Midwesterners that live in an agricultural community. They had recently formed a park district to manage the swim club and the towns two parks. One park contains the following items: Outdoor theater and covered stage, children’s playground, water fountain, pavilion, WWI canon, bathrooms, sidewalks, gates and landscaping. The other park contains: a scattering of trees, and a stream. I proposed that it be placed in the park that had nothing so that people would have something to look at. It is my wish that others would embrace the park and ask the district to move forward with making it a real park. The little “Madison-esque” world that I live in envisions park benches, some winding trails, park benches, a small playground, and a couple of bridges spanning the creek. But there are some problems. Step one, getting a piece of art in the park happened. There was some talk of possibly getting benches and one neighbor told me that they should have a block party at the park. That was the end of the rainbows and unicorns. A couple of residents started filing complaints that the sculpture was ugly, it was reducing the value of their home, and reducing their income as they stared out the window for hours on end deciding how to get the art removed from the park.
Here is what I think the truth is: There are three housing additions adjoining this park. One is a middle class tract on one side of the park. The opposite side has a back addition of very nice homes, with a small front tract of lower rent apartments with one building including Government Subsidized Housing. Due to proximity and a shared road, the Social Class A and C have learned to live with each other. The complaints seem to be coming from the Social Class B side of the park. I believe that they do not want the park developed, because people may actually come use it. I believe that they see the stream as a moat protecting them from “poor” kids getting too close to their property. They claim that it is a flood plain. Yes, and so is the rest of the area. Central Illinois farm country is one of the flattest landscapes in the nation. We know how to properly develop watershed areas now. Since the stream is actually a field run-off waterway, maybe it would be a good time to use a section of this park as an educational experiment that provides good in a variety of ways.
Last week, I was contacted by the Park District asking if I wish for the piece to stay or go. I contacted them sharing my reasons on why art is good, why we develop parks, how that helps children, families, home values, and such for their Monday night meeting. There was also a presentation by one of the board members based on Scientific Research in Virginia showing social and economic benefits of public sculpture.
The leader of the “Remove the Sculpture” organization emailed me today. It was a 9 point, two page email telling me all of the reasons that they hated my sculpture. Which by the way is a twelve foot tall thumbtack painted green that uncomfortably imitates the surrounding trees. They compared it to living next to a livestock farm, alluded to the possibility of erecting something on their property to block the view or maybe even suing to have it removed. The homeowner’s girlfriend told me in shocking detail about the fateful morning that they woke up and saw ART lingering in a city park!
The angry lady told me that we should spend less time making art and educating people in the humanities and more time raising children right and going to church!
AMEN!