Public Art Programs can present a classic “catch 22” situation. Cities understandably want only qualified, experienced, veteran artists to build and install works within their city limits. Artists need large scale, big budget commissions in order to gain this experience. Sometime in my 30’s I thought that I was qualified to attempt at least smaller scale public Art Commissions, but projects often eluded me because applicants were required to have completed several similar projects “of the same or larger scale”.
In the mid 1970’s, I was fortunate to be selected to make 3 private stained glass window commissions for a small chain called Home Bank in Southern California. 35 years later, luck and circumstances lead to my first “Art in Public Places” project in Brea California.
These images demonstrate my lack of experience, space and equipment, working with metal on this scale, but they are a tribute to my resourcefulness. I have always encouraged my students, when faced with an overwhelming task, to “do some research and figure it out!”
The angle iron frame was built with help from former student and friend, Seth Hawkins in the sculpture lab at Cal State Fullerton, where I teach. The entire frame was hot dipped galvanized in Long Beach and I then completed the project in front of my studio since it wouldn’t fit through the door. Jorge Cruz helped me drill hundreds of holes and bolt the 1/8” copper skin using Teflon “tee washers”, silicon bronze nuts and bolts and polyethylene double stick foam tape to prevent electrolysis from the dissimilar metals. I hired a truck with a 60-foot boom crane to move the “wall” element and set it on the 9 cubic yard concrete base. This base was the only part of the project that required certified drawings from a structural engineer.
I used several sub-contractors to laser-cut, bend, roll, drill, tap and finish numerous stainless parts and Preston Daniels; a sculpture grad student at Fullerton helped me with the stainless welding. The “vessel” element was assembled at my studio and several CSUF students helped me move it to the site and bolt it in place. Jim Jenkins, head of the CSUF Sculpture program, loaned me the foundry to sand cast a bronze plaque, which I bolted to the base. The piece was dedicated in December of 2011.