Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

The Art Walk on the Raritan

Albus Cavus is a group of artists which originated in new brunswick whose goal is to reclaim bad neighborhoods and run down areas thru public art. When one says public art, one might think of large expensive sculptures or art by well known famous artists which you can;t get close to. Their idea of public art is art in the most unexpected places, something positive and uplifting rather than the graffiti that is so often associated with poverty, crime, and neighborhoods that have need for urban renewal.

In 2007 they attempted to transform the Raritan Walk, a 1.8 mile stretch of walkway along the Raritan River into one of the largest murals in the world. Local artists were invited to add their artwork to what was otherwise a blighted stretch of concrete. In this article the idea of Albus Cavus is discussed, including the art walk in New Brunswick as well as one in DC. The hope was to maintain it and keep it fresh, but sadly that has not been the case.

I visited it in spring 2015. The art was still there and its rather impressive. The walk however, was clearly home to small groups of homeless. The vegetation was barely in check and there was garbage and debris all along its path. There was also signs that the homeless were feeding a local colony of cats. I didn’t feel entirely safe, despite not seeing any obvious threat. It is desolate and far from aid should one need it. It also appears as if the art murals done 10 years ago have been covered with your typical graffiti. If one wishes to visit, the best way to do so is park at Elmer Boyd Park and just walk North.

 

 
More Pictures here

walkwaygraffiti 29//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

walkwaygraffiti 26//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

walkwaygraffiti 2//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Head 2 Head on 295

If you drive on 295, as you approach exit 65B you will see a large piece of public art called Head 2 Head, created by artist John Martini. The two giant heads weigh a combined 45 tons and are part of a project by the Grounds For Sculpture, a local park featuring large works of art. The Sculpture On The Way (SOTW) program is meant to be a visual path that leads visitors to the Grounds for Sculpture. By displaying art publicly it is hoped that it was will encourage local residents and business owners to display art publicly on their own, unaffiliated with the program itself.

You can read more about the SOTW program, featuring descriptions and locations of other pieces here. You can read more about Head 2 Head here

IMG_3891

IMG_3892

The amazing House of Route 9

I really can’t think of anything to say about this house. It’s all in the pictures. This very large house on a very large property sits on Route 9 in Egg Harbor Twp. I counted no less than four dragons, a half dozen elephants, a clown, two Jesuses flanked by two Marys and two Gundams. At least I think they’re Gundams….. They may be Mazainga according to a friend of mine.

The story behind it (which can be found here) is as fascinating as the property itself. Somewhere on the property is a replica of a 75 foot Korean military vessel that fought the Japanese in the war with Korea in 1592. I am going to try to arrange a visit.

Jim Gary’s 20th century Dinosaurs at the LSC

Jim Gary is a world famous scupltor and artist who is best known for creating extremely detailed dinosaurs from automobile parts. His dinosaurs have been exhibited internationally and command a high price in the art world. You can read about Jim Gary and his work in more detail here. In 2011 the bulk of his collection was shipped to Florida, where it is currently on display at the Tallahassee Museum. I documented their disassembly and packing here. A few sculptures remained in Colts Neck, and are now on loan for the next two months to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ, one of several dinosaur related events going on at LSC. I recently visited LSC and witnessed prep work being done to restore one of the dinosaurs for display. I also spoke to Ellen Lynch, Exhibition Operations Lead, and Mary Meluso, LSC media director, about Jim Gary, his dinosaurs and the 25th anniversary of the LSC.

IMG_3484

IMG_3984

IMG_3989

IMG_3990

The two sculptures are on display at Liberty Science Center in the Wildlife Challenge, an outdoor exhibit for children.

Twenty years ago, when Liberty Science Center first opened its doors to the public, the special exhibitions gallery featured a large display (over 4000 sf) of Jim Gary’s fascinating dinosaur sculptures. To mark the anniversary, LSC is featuring two of Gary’s dinosaurs (Running Raptor and Brontosaurus) in an outdoor exhibition, Wildlife Challenge. There are several dinosaur related exhibits and attractions at LSC now including:

* The film “Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia” in the IMAX Dome Theater.

* Dinosaur Discovery – Visitors climb into an excavation pit to dig through sand for signs of fossils.

* Animatronic Dinosaur: See and hear a lifelike, animatronic model of Yangchuanosaurus, a Late Jurassic dinosaur, in the Eat and Be Eaten exhibition.

To complement this, there are even more limited run dinosaur-themed offerings mentioned here.

IMG_3476

IMG_3477

The LSC has used art in its science exhibits before, including

* Art of Science – an exhibition of the top 45 photographs selected from Princeton University’s annual juried competition of the same name.

* A Spatial Portrait – an interactive digital artwork by artist Leni Schwendinger.

* Works by Sonic Architecture artists Bill and Mary Buchen are featured on the pathway leading to Liberty Science Center.

* Digital Darkroom: a digital photo manipulation exhibit created by former Bell Labs staffer, Bill Cheswick.

The Liberty Science Center is providing for the restoration of the two pieces, due to 20+ years of exposure to the elements. The velociraptor needed far less work and was already on display while the brontosaurus was being prepped. The restoration includes sand blasting the entire sculpture, welding repairs and priming and painting the sculpture prior to its public installation. LSC has been consulting with the Jim Gary Foundation on the details of this work.

Below are pictures of the brontosaurus (minus the head and neck) being sandblasted. The work was done by Dry Ice Blasting by Advanced Indoor Air Quality. The company does all manner of sandblasting, working on walls, houses, and cars. According to the workers, they often are called upon to clean up old pieces of art to be repainted. They blasted the surface of the metal with Black Beauty Abbrasive, made from coal. Once the paint is removed, the bare metal surface can be primed and painted.

IMG_3451

IMG_3452

IMG_3468

IMG_3455

IMG_3461

IMG_3464

IMG_3488

Sculpture on loan from the James T. Gary Foundation, courtesy of Kafi Benz, studio director, Jim Gary’s Twentieth Century Dinosaurs (www.kafi-benz.com) ]

Jim Gary’s car parts dinosaurs moved to Florida museum

In 2004, I learned that a local NJ artist was building full sized dinosaurs out of car parts, many of which could be seen outside his Monmouth County home. Jim Gary was a self taught artist who worked in various mediums but mostly made sculptures out of metal. He was most famous for his sculptures of dinosaurs. He made them out of automotive parts he found in junkyards with painstaking attention to detail. Anyone familiar with cars can almost instantly recognize the calipers from a brake set that make up a foot or the leaf springs that make up the rib cage. Likewise nearly every one of his dinosaurs is instantly recognizable as the specific type of dinosaur it is meant to be, whether it was a T-Rex, a triceratops or a velociratpor. This is because he would research the dinosaurs extensively to make sure he got the number of vertebrae and ribs correct.

One day I took a drive and showed up unannounced at his home. I had no intention of bothering the artist, I hoped to simply take a few pictures from the road, something I imagined the artist would be accustomed to. Luckily, Jim Gary saw me, and offered me access to his property to take as many pictures as I liked. He had no time to speak to me then, but he said he would be happy to do so at another time. Unfortunately getting back to him was something I never did; the next year he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and passed away. I posted the pictures on this site along with a brief write up about the artist and his dinosaurs. Over the next few years I gave permission to the curators of his estate permission to use some of those pictures at various exhibits. Since that time, many people searching for information about Jim Gary have found my blog entry and left kind words about the man they knew, or only knew of but wish they had met.

I was contacted by Gary’s estate in August, 2011 and asked if I would come and document the dinosaurs one last time before they were moved to the Tallahassee Museum in Florida (where they will remain for another ten years or so). I was more then happy to do this and you can see those pictures here on flickr.

Jim Gary was close friends with the Berg family for several decades. They met when the Bergs bought some of his art, and their son would sometimes help Jim create new dinosaurs. Later, as Jim’s work became famous and would travel in art shows, the Berg family would help Jim disassemble, transport and reassemble the pieces for display. After Jim’s passing, the pieces that were outside his home were kept at the Berg home in Colt’s Neck. As the pieces were being loaded into the 18 wheeler bound for Florida, local residents realized that the dinosaurs that had been a part of their quiet neighborhood would no longer be there. Many expressed disappointment at the move but understood that the art deserved a chance for the greater public to better appreciate them.

I arrived early that morning to document the pieces before dis-assembly. They were much as I remembered them, if not a bit more weathered. Life sized, iconic and a cool factor of 11. I took a bunch of pictures and before I knew it heads and tails were off in preparation for loading the following day. When I returned again, a giant fork lift had arrived to lift the two ton dinosaurs from the lawn into the backs of two tractor trailers. Straps were strung under ribs and around legs. They were carefully moved across the lawn and into the street, then hoisted to the correct height to be carefully laid inside the truck.

You can’t conceive how difficult it was to safely move these pieces of art. Despite being made of welded metal they could still suffer stress fractures or even snap if they were to impact the ground or the sides of the trucks. Furthermore, they had to be balanced safely for the ride to the truck, but be level enough to be slid inside. The largest piece only had a 6 inch clearance of the truck’s ceiling. At the end of all the pictures is a video in 3 parts showing hard how the biggest piece was to load.

Two years later, the majority of the pieces sit in the Tallahassee Museum – BUT – two other pieces are now at Liberty Science Center, on exhibit until the end of September. If you get the chance, I strongly urge you to visit these gigantic art pieces. They are awe inspiring and dramatic, and represent everything that art should be.

IMG_6418

IMG_6497

IMG_6360

IMG_6311

IMG_6286

IMG_6282

IMG_6247

All of the pics on Flickr, a LOT MORE

Interview with jeremy about Jim Gary

Interview with Arlene Berg

Tillie stuck in a shed?

the 16 ton Tillie remains locked in a storage shed

Tillie may have survived the wrecking ball in Asbury Park, but preservationists are beginning to worry that the 16-ton grinning icon could meet its end in storage before developers find a use for it. Packed into makeshift sheds on sewage-treatment plant property beside the Atlantic Ocean, the painted images may be in danger of decay, critics say. They point out one of the sheds blew apart over the winter and had to be replaced.

The grassroots organization that saved the image of the toothy cartoon carnival barker when the historic Palace Amusements was demolished five years ago is pressing the city and its oceanfront developers to abide by a state permit by giving Tillie a better storage place — and more respect.

But with construction projects in Asbury Park taking a hit from the foundering economy, Tillie is low on the list of priorities, prompting an appeal for Gov. Jon Corzine’s intervention.

“After 1,000 days of trying, our organization has exhausted all available avenues within Asbury Park to resolve this dispute,” Bob Crane, president of Save Tillie Inc., wrote in an April 26 letter to the governor. “We no longer believe any resolution is possible in the city.”

Formed in 1999, Save Tillie unsuccessfully fought to preserve Palace Amusements, which has been featured in several movies and a few episodes of “The Sopranos.” It was frequently mentioned in songs by Bruce Springsteen, whose musical career was nurtured in Asbury Park.

But the group was successful in convincing the city and developers to preserve sections of the building, part of which dated to 1888. When the Palace was razed five years ago, crews first removed a 16-by-10-foot section of cinder-block wall with Tillie’s image and two 10-by-10-foot portions with bumper car murals.

The sections were cited in a state Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) permit, which requires the city and developers to preserve them until they are incorporated into a luxury hotel that has yet to be built on the former Palace site at Cookman and Kingsley avenues.

Though it was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, those images, which adorned the building for about 30 years before it shut down in 1988, have spent the past five years in a storage shed on the grounds of the city’s sewage treatment plant a few dozen feet from the ocean. Without proper ventilation and a sound roof, the murals risk damage from mold and water, Crane said.

He’s urged developers to move the murals. The state Department of Environmental Protection vowed to ensure the city and developers complied with the permit. The city had set an Aug. 1, 2006, deadline for moving Tillie and the other murals.

Gary Mottola, chief operating officer for boardwalk redeveloper Madison Marquette, said he’s unsure of Tillie’s future. In the recession, developers are prioritizing their projects, and he’s not certain where Tillie fits.

“Tillie’s not an isolated thing. There are a number of things about the redevelopment that have to be revisited,” Mottola said. “Right now, Tillie is one of a lot of issues that need to be thought about in terms of how we take this waterfront.”Outside the sentiment for Tillie by some preservationists, there is nothing historically significant about the wall, he said, noting it could be recreated with materials purchased in any home-improvement store.

Even before the murals were preserved, they were chipping and peeling. Any restoration, Mottola said, would most likely entail removing the images from the cinder blocks, because they are decorated with lead-based paint now considered hazardous.

In a swipe at Crane, who lives in Maryland, Mottola said no one from the city or elsewhere in the state has expressed interest in Tillie to him.

But city manager Terence Reidy said neither argument is pertinent. The only thing that counts is the state permit saying Tillie must be preserved and incorporated into a building, he said.

“It doesn’t matter whether you love Tillie or don’t love Tillie; it’s part of the CAFRA permit,” Reidy said. “The city will weigh in and do whatever is necessary to be in compliance with its CAFRA permit.”

He said the city two weeks ago contacted the DEP about the lead paint issue and is awaiting word on whether that changes anything. No determination has been made, he said, about how the mural would be restored.

As for finding a new home for Tillie, he said, there’s a spot already picked out behind city hall on the west side of the railroad tracks. It’s waiting for the developer whenever he decides to move it.

this blog entry originally posted 6/3/09

Hong Kong Willie: of lobster buoys, worms, and burlap bags

the holiday tree of buoys

Pretend you’re on vacation in Florida, driving along a road that looks like any other. As you go around a bend in the road you see a helicopter, sitting in the side yard of a house that is covered with hundreds of colored lobster buoys. What would you do? Well, if you’re me, you turn around and find out what it’s all about. And that is how I discovered Hong Kong Willie. Parking nearby, we debated what to do (and by we, I mean my girlfriend). She comes from the Appalachian south, where you don’t just walk up to a strange house and say “Hi!” unless you want a shotgun stuck in your face. I don’t come from the south and, I prefer to trust my inner voice. The inner voice said, “If this person didn’t want visitors, they wouldn’t have decorated their house like this.” So I brazenly walked up to a house covered with lobster buoys, a 9-1-1 made from driftwood, a turtle shell bird fountain and a random chicken wandering around freely in the yard.

A sign on the door stated visiting hours, but the door was locked, so we carefully looked around, keeping in mind that while we were invited by the decor we hadn’t been, ya know, *invited*. After just a few minutes though, a gentleman emerged and introduced himself as Joe Brown. He explained that this was where local Tampa artist “Hong Kong Willie” displayed all his artwork. It wasn’t until much later into the conversation that I realized that Joe Brown and HKW were in fact one and the same and that he was speaking of himself in third person. Or more accurately there is no HKW, he ia representation of an idea, of reuse of recycling and conservation. Joe enjoyed talking about his art and seemed not at all surprised by our unexpected visit. People apparently stop by frequently for the same reason we did, out of nothing more than curiosity. “There has never been, in all the years of being here, some massive sign saying who we are and what we do,” Brown said. “Because when people finally decide out of inquisitiveness to slow down and stop, they’ve finally slowed down enough to hear the most important message of their life.”

Soon Joe was telling us about how he became a re-use artist. How does one become a re-use artist? For that matter, what is a re-use artist? Simply put, a re-use artist is one who repurposes items into art, often items that are found or scavenged. For example, you could take a glass Gerber baby food jar and melt it down, then with some additional materials you could make a beautiful paper weight. Something that would have been discarded after serving its original purpose, now has a new purpose and a new life. The idea is hardly original, but while many artists do this type of thing, not many can claim such an interesting history as Joe Brown.

Joe and his family lived on the Gunn Highway Landfill from 1958 to 1963. Nearly half of Tampa’s waste was brought in by the truckload every day until the landfill closed in 1962. “It was astounding how quick they could fill the 15 acres of enormous pits,” Brown said. As a child, he often would scavenge materials from the landfill and sell them for pocket money. One day, his mother took him to an art class taught by a native of Hong Kong where re-use of discarded materials was common. “It really made an impression on me,” he said. “It became very easy to think outside the box and know where I could find things from resources that were just abounding. I just feel so fortunate to be able to sit here and see assets that could be sitting in a big trench and there would be no energy coming from it,” he said. “And now a lot of it is finding homes in peoples’ houses and businesses and getting people to think about re-use.”

Brown started out life in the business world, not surprisingly, in the waste management field. Brown also told us that he worked for IBM and was involved with the development of bar code technology before finally deciding to leave the corporate world for something more personally satisfying: creating art and living an ecologically sustainable lifestyle.

In the Florida Keys there is an abudance of styrofoam buoys used by local fisherman. Styrofoam doesn’t biodegrade very well, but it does have a limited shelf life for its original purpose of being a buoy. Brown collected a large number of discarded buoys and eventually created the buoy tree which sits in his front yard. From a distance the individual buoys blend into one enormous shape which I originally took for a giant ice cream cone. Up close one can see lots and lots of individually painted buoys. “It is Styrofoam; we understand that it does not degrade, but to blame the fishermen for their livelihood wouldn’t be correct. Instead we find a usage for those,” Brown said. He hopes the novelty of the buoy tree will inspire and stimulate children to find new ways to reduce, re-use and recycle garbage.

Brown said art is viewed and appreciated differently by different people. “If it all came out the same, it would be like bland grits all the time,” Brown said. “I also try to stay away from imprinting a definite use for a definite item.” He explains, for example, that 2-liter bottles are not limited only to making bird feeders. The bottles can be used for many other art and craft projects. Not all the items he collects turn into art. Some are simply repurposed, like burlap bags from coffee and peanut producers which he sells to the U.S. National Forestry Service for the collection of pine seeds and to Sam Adams Brewing for hops production.

Brown said the larger message he wants to communicate is that the disposal of garbage today is creating a toxic environment.

Besides selling his art to private individuals, Hong Kong Willie has provided pieces to local business and helped with much of the decor at Gaspar’s Patio Bar and Grille in Temple Terrace. According to one article I found while researching the artist, Gaspar’s owner Jimmy Ciaccio said the artist’s inventory reflected his vision when he remodeled the restaurant. “Joe’s work inspires me,” Ciaccio said. “I always see something different every time I look at how he decorated the place.” In addition Brown has a side business selling compost, soil and worms. Brown and his family compost waste materials to feed their Florida red worms. He sells these worms by the pound to gardeners and by the cup to local fisherman. One local said they are great for catching blue gills, sand perch and other local favorites. He also added that he likes getting his worms from Brown “because his bait stays alive longer than any other baits I’ve used.”

If you want to visit Hong Kong Willie, the studio is located on Morris bridge Rd, Tampa right near the entrance to I-75, or just visit his blog HKW also sells Florida red worms thru a separate blog

Blogspot interview with Joe Brown

Youtube interview

another YT interview

Fox news interview

WEDU news story

Green website article about HKW

another article about HKW