Posts Tagged ‘cars’

Abandoned Ford

Found this old Ford on the side of the road in rural PA.

All the pics

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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All of the pics on Flickr, a LOT MORE

Interview with jeremy about Jim Gary

Interview with Arlene Berg

The Ghost Parking Lot

Established in 1978, this art exhibit called the Ghost Parking Lot is located in the parking lot of a shopping plaza in Hamden, CT. James Wine sank 20 cars into the ground at varying depths then covered them with concrete. The concrete followed the form of the vehicles, allowing the observer to easily identify the various makes and models, through some were harder then others to ID. The convertible was quite interesting as we could easily see the steering wheel emerging from the rest of the concrete.

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The space it occupies was leased from the shopping plaza, and expired in 2003. The land was considered “valuable real estate”, but it sounds like a bogus argument because the parking spaces it takes up are the farthest from the stores (and the lot was half empty too). The Ghost Parking Lot was demolished in September 2003, so I decided to contact the creator, James Wine.

Mr Wines founded Site in 1970, an organization which works combines art & architecture. According to their website, they offer a “wide variety of design services – including buildings, public spaces, landscapes, interiors, graphics, and industrial products. SITE’s capacity to work in so many fields is based on a philosophy that sees all of the arts as a fusion of related ideas.” The owner of the Hamden Shopping Plaza was an art lover and so in 1978 he commissioned Site to build some sort of public art. All decisions as to design and subject matter were left up to Mr Wines and his staff.

Said Mr Wines, “Public art often derives it’s meaning from its location. You go to a parking lot and expect to see cars in the lot, not under it. It’s inverting expectations. You’re seeing something in a place which makes sense but whose presentation does not. Now remove this from the parking lot and place it in a museum and it loses all meaning, all relevance.” The owner leased the last few parking spaces nearest the street to Site for 20 years, and soon construction began. Wines and his crew began collected typical cars of the day for burial under a thin layer of cement. (note I said thin and cement…) As the project began construction, many locals did not “get it” and some even objected. Local high school students began threatening to damage the project, and generally were a nuisance to the point that a security guard had to be hired.

Once the concrete was poured over the cars, the local kids did a 180. It went from something to be vandalized to something cool. “They even volunteered to help is the construction but we politely declined.” The cars chosen included Cadillac’s and VW bugs, even a convertible. He chose these cars to represent what the average person drove, as well as to be instantly recognizable. The cars were often donated, and often were left with personal items inside, which later would become entombed. One car which troubled him belonged to a young man who died in Vietnam. His mother donated the car and even left his dog tags inside. Mr Wines always felt conflicted about this vehicle, leaving something so personal inside. Ultimately it was the mothers decision and he accepted the donation.

The interiors were filled with concrete, poured thru a hole in the roof. Some were filled completely, while others were filled only to the bottom edge of the window. In many cases you could still see steering wheels, dials and gauges, even radio knobs, which was possible because the concrete was a thin layer. Once completed, Wines realized that this would eventually deteriorate. People passing by would chip off chunks of concrete, and he said some even brought those pieces to his office to be autographed (which he did sign)

After 5-6 years though the cars clearly needed touching up, as pieces of metal were exposed. No one contracted him about what to happen next, and he is not sure who was responsible but someone decided to do some “touch up” and simply poured asphalt all over the cars completely covering many of the details. In his eyes the art was now ruined, the details completely lost. “It’s like taking a Rembrandt and removing some of the paint and just anybody repairing it. It’s not the same painting any more.”

Always controversial, it may have been cool to some when constructed, but the ravages of time and “touch ups” led most locals to consider it an eye sore. In the late 90’s the shopping mall was sold, but since the parking spaces were leased by Site they could do nothing about it. Once the lease was up there were really on two options, do a decent restoration or demolish it. Mr Wines said he had no problem with demolishing it because it was never meant to last forever and he felt it was no longer even his, thanks to the bad touch up job done in the mid 80’s.

There was an effort made to preserve it, but Mr Wines said it would probably cost 150-200K and involve completely removing the asphalt, and then relayering it. The local newspaper ran columns on the subject and not a single positive response was received. Perhaps no one could remember the project was new, perhaps the novelty had worn off. It seems it’s only function now was as a landmark for giving directions thru town. With no funding and no interest, the owners had the artwork scrapped on 9/23/03.

The ghost parking lot when first constructed

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