FestivAll is once again upon us, and as has been the case for the past five years, my big contribution to the City Becoming A Work Of Art is my entry in this year’s East End Main Street Public Art Initiative, AKA Streetworks 2014.
This is the sixth year for Streetworks, and it’s my fifth year participating. In the past Streetworks has brought banners, bricks and metal street signs to the Historic East End of Charleston, and it’s been an honor to have my work included alongside such great local artists as Mark Wolfe, Rob Cleland, Charlie Hamilton, Glen Brogan, Joe Bolyard, Ian Bode, Sharon Stackpole and so many others. The highlight of this project is the annual art auction. The original art works created for Streetworks are auctioned off in a fun-filled night of hilarity, hosted by Ted Brightwell.
The art this year is for a project that will see metal frameworks built around the East End, each of which will contain several works of art which will revolved to reveal a different work of art on the other side.
This year the Streetworks Art Auction takes place at the old Kyle Furniture Warehouse on Hansford Street, which will be transformed into a wonderful venue where, hopefully, deep-pocketed art connoisseurs will be so impressed with the art that they will back up truckloads of money to the joint, just so that they can take a piece home with them.
The moolah will be split evenly between the artist and East End Main Street, which will use the funds to invest in making Charleston’s Historic East End an even better place for business and human beings. I’ll let them explain:
“This year, 35 artists have joined forces with East End Main Street to continue the trend of turning Washington Street, East into a mile-long art gallery and implementing StreetWorks: Revolutions!. Before each submitted piece is digitally transferred and applied to this very innovative installation project they will be individually sold during the 6th Annual StreetWorks Art Auction and Celebration. Registration for the most innovative art auction and project around is now officially open.”
This all happens Wednesday, June 25 at the Kyle Furniture Building, 1352 Hansford Street, East End Warehouse District. You will enter the building under the street-crossing walkway that says “KYLE” on the side. If you wish to attend, admission is $25, and you can pre-register at THIS SITE.
There is a contest for the artists involved to see how many tickets they can sell. If you’ve been reading PopCult for a while, you probably know that I do not participate in such contests. When you register online, you will be asked to enter an “Artist Code.” Please feel free to leave it blank or enter the name of any other artist involved in the auction. I just don’t do that kind of thing.
Once you’ve registered online, your name and other information will be added to master list with confirmation of payment. Registration will also be open at the door the day of the event, starting at 5:15 PM.
It will be a greatly fun evening. The fun begins at 5:30 for the opening reception where you may indulge in beer, wine and heavy hors d’oeuvres from top East End restaurants. Plus you can listen to live music by Tofujitsu. That’s all included in the admission, so even if you don’t buy any art, you’ll get your money’s worth.
But you will want to buy some art. This project includes many of Charleston’s top artists and their work is always amazing.
Inside The Process: Creating “Sunny Day In The Park”
So I was asked to participate in this year’s Streetworks Initiative again, and I had to come up with something to submit. After exploring a few industrial-looking concepts with metal-looking pipes and airbrushed highlights, I decided to go in a completely different direction.
I’ve been a fan of Heinz Edelmann for most of my life. Since being exposed to his design work on The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” I’d been inspired and influenced by the man’s sense of color, design and psychedelic imagery. I’ve been ripping off his style since I was eight years old. In fact, I’ve been doing it so long that I’ve probably forgotten how to do it right.
Remembering this, and remembering that it had been years since the last major work I did where I stole wholesale from Edelmann, I decided I wanted to work in that style again. The last time I did this was when I created the music video for Go Van Gogh’s “Requiem For Pepperland” over the course of four days, before I really knew how to animate on the computer properly.
This piece would be a departure for me in many ways. In previous years for Streetworks I’ve mainly worked digitally. I’ve distorted and composited photographs that I’d taken and basically turned them into digital collages. This year’s idea would actually require me to draw. I still used some photographic reference, but I hand-drew most of the elements before scanning them and assembling them into the finished piece digitally.
I decided to do a piece set in the East End’s AIDS Memorial Garden, because it’s striking how the State Capitol sort of looms over this peaceful oasis in the middle of the city. It also provided a good setting for me to work in a psychedelic style without going too far over the top.
My first idea was to have a girl smelling a flower, the Capitol building peeking over the bushes, with trees, and colorful plants all over. Then I came up with the title, “Sunny Day In The Park,” and decided to throw in a little tribute to the master of Pointillism, Georges Seurat.
Seurat painted “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” which inspired the Stephen Sondheim musical, “Sunday In The Park With George,” which gave me the idea for the title of my piece. I decided to swipe one of the couples from his painting, reverse the image, draw over it and transform it into more psychedelic colors, and plop it into the middle of my finished piece.
So I started there. I pulled the couple out of his painting, digitally, of course, and reversed them, blew out the artwork to a sillhouette, and drew them back in with more colorful attire.
Then I set that aside. I needed an image of the State Capitol. I have several on my hard drive, so that wasn’t hard to track down. Then I simply looked at the monitor and drew freehand, with a Sharpie, on printer paper, without pencilling or anything.
The end result is a bit crazy-looking, but it works. At least I think it does.
Then I needed the flower-sniffing girl. I went back through my files of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School sessions, and came across a photo of Ophelia Darc, wearing a hat and a mask. I used this as the basis for the girl, but it took a lot of work to get there.
First I had to reverse the image, paint out the background, paint out the hat, paint in some hair where the hat was, and do some cropping and tilting.
After that, I ran the image through a filter to further simplify it so that I could get a better idea of how her face would look in Edelmann’s style. In the end, I wound up looking at the monitor and drawing the girl freehand because the photographic image just didn’t fit what I needed. I did wind up using this step as part of last week’s Monday Morning Art.
When I hand-drew the girl, it was easy to eliminate the mask and hew a little closer to Edelmann’s style. I also wound up hand-drawing trees, bushes and a rhododendron, again with Sharpie on printer paper, just to get closer to the more organic, flowing look of Heinz Edelmann’s work.
In case you’re wondering, I’m not deluding myself that I’m getting anywhere near his quality of work. I think that, at best, my meager talents allow me to get close enough so that people can tell who I’m ripping off.
I put together a rough composite of the pieces and decided that it needed more. The sky looked too empty. so I decided to go back to the “Requiem For Pepperland” video and steal from myself. I plucked a frame-grab from the video and blew out the colors on the sun from that piece.
The end result was a pretty cool-looking sun, and with the addition of a couple of hastily-scrawled clouds and a rainbow, the sky was visually pleasing.
So I basically had the finished piece in my mind at this point, but I still had to work out a few details. I wanted to apply a watercolor filter over my finished work, but I discovered that it muddied up the couple that I swiped from Seurat. I liked the way it looked on everything else, so…
…I prepared a color version without the couple.
I then applied the watercolor filter to it, and afterward, placed the Seurat couple in their proper place. I’m going to show you a detail from the finished piece here, but you have to wait until Monday to see the whole thing.
Hopefully, you will be compelled to rush out and mortage the house so you can buy it next Wednesday at the Streetworks Auction.
Oddly enough, writing about the process in depth made me realize how much my artistic process resembles playing with Colorforms.
There will be lots of “Stuff To Do” posts coming your way during FestivAll, so check PopCult compulsively, like ever 42 seconds or something, so you can make sure you don’t miss anything.