May 27th, 2012
With tropical storm Beryl bearing down on Jacksonville, we made a late decision yesterday to take the wall down this morning and bring everything back to the studio. At first we were just going to secure things, wrap some tape around the panels or lower the panels to the ground so they are flat. When the mayor cancelled the Jazz Festival for Sunday, it was clear that the storm meant serious business. Also, if everyone was in “take-down” mode, it would be easier to get a truck in and out of the area.
I called Dolf James to confirm our plan and he graciously volunteered the use of his trailer. If you are planning to do any large pieces you need to be able to move your stuff around. It’s great to have friends who have trucks and trailers and are willing to help you move things. Renting a big U-Haul would have been a big pain and expense.
We arrived at the site at about 7:45 and Ryan Buckley was already there, pulling up the anchors and unscrewing the support legs. We could fit 6 panels on Dolf’s trailer, which meant 5 trips to the studio. My brother Robert took care of stripping down the lighting, and our other friend Steve Arrington, helped us carry all the panels to the trailer. Dolf and I shuttled the first load not knowing what roads were opened. As we rounded the corner on Main and Bay, the 3 panels in the back fell over making a huge “crunching” sound. We straightened things up and within 20 feet they toppled again. Dolf pulled out a 12 inch piece of rope and managed to tie a line for support…we bumped our way over the cobblestones on Laura St. and finally arrived at the back entrance to the studio on Hogan. We had tried to secure the panels with a 1×4 screwed across all the frames. As we parked and prepared to unload I realized that I left the drill at the site. We just looked at each other…duh! We had no choice and just pulled the 3 connected panels off the trailer in one piece. They were pretty beat up anyways. Our conclusion was that we had 4 more tries to perfect our technique.
Within 2 hours we broke down and transported the installation back to the studio. It was a good feeling to have everything safe. I’m glad we didn’t go with the plan to leave the panels exposed during the storm. I’m also thankful to have some very competent friends and family who know how to work together. They just made it happen.
May 3rd, 2012
Kelvin from WJXT interviewed me during the opening and produced this awesome segment which aired last night. Thanks to all of you who came by during Art Walk, what a great time we all had. More to come with pictures and details, but here is the link to the news segment: http://www.news4jax.com/news/-Message-in-a-Bottle-unveiled-in-Jacksonville/-/475880/12533494/-/1ahi3z/-/index.html
The BIG day
May 2nd, 2012
Our opening day is finally here. I’m excited and the wall is looking good. We had a temporary casualty with Dots, but all is fixed now. The titles were glued on last night and we are ready. Last thing is to bring over are the printouts of the word cloud and phrases. It’s been a long journey with this project and an enlightening one. Spending long hours caulking water bottles gives you a lot of time to think. What impressed me the most is the outpouring of support from people everywhere. Truly gratifying.
The Wall takes on a different look depending on the sun, or lack thereof. The morning back light, the high noon brilliance, and the shade of the late afternoon as the shadows of the adjoining buildings cover the park. Then the lights come on and the Wall takes on a new life. My favorite is around 8:00 pm.
I hope those who come to see the Wall will take the time to experience it and feel the presence of the messages. A lot of positive energy here. I hope that visitors will return at different parts of the day. I hope that everyone takes time to reflect on the things that are important to them, and then take action. If the Wall can inspire, motivate, and move the viewer in some way, then I have accomplished my goal with this artwork.
Opening – May 2
April 28th, 2012
Our official public unveiling of the Wall of Light will be on May 2 during Art Walk in Main Street Park (see map below). The festivities start at 5 pm and normally people are downtown until long after 9 pm. Since it gets dark around 8:15, please plan to stay until the lights go on.
Hope to see a lot of you at the opening and please introduce yourself. The wall will be up until after Memorial Day, May 28.
Google map to the park, located behind the downtown main library on Main Street between Duval and Monroe:
Permit for the Wall
April 27th, 2012
Today we FINALLY got our permit to erect the Wall in Main Street Park. How’s that for last minute? The latest was the paperwork for my insurance, a slight misunderstanding. After almost reaching a point of breakdown, things were clarified and the permit was signed. Yay!
Would we have gone ahead with the installation on Monday w/o a permit? Of course!
April 13th, 2012
Betty Ann and her daughter brought more bottles to us from Bayview Elementary on the Westside. Betty Ann is a sponsor of the Girl Scout troop who visited the studio a few weeks ago. They are all anxiously awaiting the completion of the wall and seeing their contributions. I think this may be the last batch of bottles to finalize. We are heavily into wall-building mode now.
Do you need a wheelbarrow for those?
April 12th, 2012
I only kid Andy Thompson because he is such a good friend. We’ve know Andy and his family for years through his active involvement in the local science fairs. Andy started collecting bottles at the office and the response was less than expected. That’s ok, every bottle counts. Andy’s son served in active duty in Afghanistan, we salute you Andy!
Last bottle pickups
April 7th, 2012
Dorian made her last scheduled rounds of bottle pickups from our Messengers, one from Girl Scout Troop 1244 (Leslie and daughter Hailey) and the other from Ms. McBride, the recycling director and teacher at Ponte Vedra HS. Her sons helped process the bottles and we know what a big effort that can be. Now we are officially out of collection mode and focusing on entering all the messages and building the wall. A BIG thanks to all of you who took the time to organize and collect bottles, we know it was a big effort. We hope that the end result of what you contributed to is deserving of your effort!
Another contribution by Michele…
April 6th, 2012
Michele has been busy, I think this is her 3rd drop off and we are happy to have her bottles! Michele is part of Rachel’s “Super Messenger” team and we could not have done this w/o people like you! Thanks.
Fusion Team at Coral Ridge Baptist Fellowship
April 4th, 2012
Greg and Kayla brought several bags of completed bottles to the studio from their church group. Greg mentioned that there were several veteran’s in the group and they all embraced the project. It’s great to see all the enthusiastic participation around town and the willingness of people to jump into a project that seems to be right. Sometimes you have to trust your instincts. Greg showed me a sample wall he built using the bottles that were being collected…looked pretty good! We appreciate all the hard work to clean and dry out the bottles…and to craft a meaningful message. It’s all part of the process, and those who have participated hopefully have been rewarded. Thank you Greg and Kayla and your team at Coral Ridge.
Greg’s mom and dad, Arland and Gerri, dropped by on Wednesday to check out the completed panels in order to make a report back to the team. We’re happy to have visitors!