Monday, May 31, 2010

Street-View Project: Backstory

Here is what inspired me to start and complete my most-recent piece, East Meets West

I've been reading the amazing BLDGBLOG ever since I found it on my computer one day. (Seriously, I must've found it at 2 a.m. one morning, gone to bed, and left it on the screen for my awake-self to find it). The blog deals with architecture, buildings, and the various forms of creativity linked to the planning and construction of such structures. I've never been one to admire buildings (except the monumental/grandiose ones), but I have found a new appreciation for them by this blog--and gotten hooked--I've spent many late-nights/early-mornings digging through/reading older posts. I suggest you take a look, and it might just snatch you up.

Late last year I started salvaging a lot of paper and art-related (or possibly art-related) materials from my various work places. This was influenced by an exhibit I saw earlier in the year: Finds Refined at the Museum of Northwest Art (MoNA); meeting the Seattle artist Gretchen Bennett (from the MoNA's show); as well as my finding the Irish artist, Barry Quinn, who is very, very eco-conscious.

Some things I started salvaging included: the dots from hole-punches, sheets of colored paper, scrap paper for collages, the cardboard CD holders from audiobooks (the library uses plastic and throws out the cardboard ones), as well as the receipt rolls from our ticket-printer. The rolls of receipt-paper hooked my attention, because you can draw really long murals, sketches, or landscapes on these. Coupled with the BLDGBLOG-driven mind set, I wanted to draw a long street-view of buildings all in a row.

Now, this may sound a little boring, but in my mind I was going to twist it: I'd draw cables (from anything electric) in red, and the majority of the buildings in black ink or graphite. Also, I'd disregard the actual streets and corners, so buildings across the street from each other in real life would be right next to each other, or buildings would look really long if I decided to follow them around the corner.

Here is a good example of this idea (and actually in my targeted town), photographed by Joe Mabel, and posted on Wikipedia. The Swinomish Channel is straight, but in this photo it looks like it curves.

My initial idea was to do the whole town that I live in, but when I started doing live sketches of the buildings downtown, I knew this would be nearly-impossible, even on a 125-foot long roll of 3-inch wide paper. So, I decided to start with just a small section of downtown.

When I pitched the idea to the Director of MoNA, he said using the receipt-paper would be really tacky, and wouldn't hold up after a while. Instead, he suggested I use a thicker watercolor paper in large sheets to convey my idea.

So, that's what I did. I am still hooked on this stream-of-thought, and am already planning/sketching alternative takes on this idea.

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