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 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.
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!
March 25th, 2012
I’ll start a series of posts for each panel. Here is the first one…
Panel 1 – “Dots”. 433 bottles, 4.5 hours to build. Completed Saturday, March 17.
This is the first panel so I wanted to keep it pretty simple using techniques already tried for the various test walls. It’s easier to leave some gaps so that the various diameter bottles just naturally seem to fit. There is always a certain amount of randomness that you have to accommodate, every bottle is slightly different. It’s also easier to build bottom side down as opposed to sideways because each bottle’s base is slightly wider than the tops (some more so than others). As I was building the first test wall it was evident that the wall was tilting as it grew taller.
Another aspect of the design is the actual color and patterns of the bottles. If you grab whatever is in a single bag and go through that bag entirely before starting on the next, there is a chance that there will not be an even mix of bottle shapes, colors, or cap colors. For most of the designs, I’m after a uniform randomness. Dorian is sorting the bottles into bins so that I can have a handy way to choose the bottles before I start construction.
“Dots” is named after the pattern of brightly colored caps that are visible on the front face. Only after I finished did I realize the number of blue caps that ended up in the design. Normally, blue is not that common so I was lucky on finding the right bag. The panel was constructed on the floor before I realized how much easier it would be to raise the tray to bench height! I looking forward to the remaining 27 designs.
March 22nd, 2012
Today we hit the 10,000 bottle mark with a few more thousand on the way in. We have 1,000 waiting for us to pick up and 3 high schools, Douglas Anderson, Englewood, and Wolfson, are out on spring break this week and they are sending a bunch our way. We are thrilled to have all of these and now we can devote 100% attention to the wall construction, installation, and the opening.
A BIG thanks to Dorian who almost single-handedly recruited, collected, and recorded every bottle for the project. She deserves a medal for this!
March 21st, 2012
Today I sat down to write a few messages to the troops. I’ve been seeing all the words from the community and it is all so humbling. Kids who can barely write, people who hardly have means to live, vets, military families, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, old people, young people – they all had something to say. I didn’t want to have some lame excuse that I was too busy or that I did enough work so I didn’t have to participate. As I sat down to write I felt a sense of peace and satisfaction. I think everyone who has completed a bottle and message knows what I am talking about. Sometimes when we stop and apply our consciousness to something positive, we tie into something larger. I was feeling that today.