Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Personal Grounds....An installation!

Bright and early on Labor Day Monday, Steve and I picked up the reserved 16' Penske rental truck and went to my studio where we loaded the four, old painted doors with the great patina of peeling paint. There was no need to tie them into place. They are taller than the interior of the truck and were simply wedged into place (Photo below: The packed truck!).

We continued home and loaded the portraits, the boxes of framed and tagged keys, and the boxes of supplies. I'd spent the entire weekend getting things ready for this "load".....

...which meant I color coded and numbered all the portraits. Believe me....we needed to do this to assure a smooth installation. (Above and below....Mouse House, our business, overflowing with stacks of Decision Portraits! Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

There are 107 portraits. They were stacked all over the first floor....which is our "business"....but still....this is a lot of artwork.

There are two floors at The City Gallery at Waterfront Park. We needed to know which pieces went to which floor. Then, we needed to know exactly where each piece would hang. The portraits were listed by alphabetical order, each with a number. The numbers corresponded to a floor plan.

The "yellow dots" were for the first floor. The "green dots" were for the second floor. We placed them on the top of each frame...where they wouldn't be seen once hanging on the gallery walls.

Once everything was in the truck, Steve and I showered and changed.....because we also had a funeral to attend in Charleston. Our largest and most influential client's mother had died. So, we found a parking place (amazing) and attended the mass before arriving at The City Gallery to unload the work.

It took just over an hour to unload! Of course, we had lots of help from the staff and interns! (Thanks!) "Yellow dotted" portraits to the first floor and "green dotted" portraits to the second floor. Door and supplies went to the second floor too. We screwed the doors into their two standing units and went home for the day.

Yesterday I was up and on the road back to Charleston before 7 AM.....and I worked steadily until just before 9 PM....but the installation is DONE. The exhibition looks GREAT....exactly how I envisioned it months a dream come true!

First.....Erin Glaze, gallery director, and I followed the floor plans....placing all the portraits in front of the walls on which they were to be hung.

(Above and below: The start of the installation....all the portraits leaning against the walls on which they were to be hung. Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

(Above and below: The start of the installation...all the portraits leaning against the walls on which they were to be hung.)

Then, interns started measuring and hanging while I tackled the two sculptural units....the doors....covering them with the framed and tagged keys.

The photos above show one of the two door units....with all the framed keys for both units on the floor. I had photos of the arrangement on my camera....and followed the images to place all the pieces where each one went.

Soon, the door above looked like this.....

....and the second unit looked like this (above). Please note, the other unit is visible from this vantage point.

Above is another view of the second door unit....with my "Wall of Keys" installation in the background. I tackled this wall with total glee. It was so much fun to see the individual keys take shape as a "unit". Please enjoy the images below!

Above and below: The Wall of Keys, installation! (Click on any image to enlarge.)

The framed piece is actually a much older work. I simply used it as a "found object" to create the installation. It also served to remind me that I've ALWAYS loved old keys!

The lighting is not "set" yet for the exhibition. The talented staff will be applying all the exhibition labels, cleaning the floors, and setting the lights before the opening on Friday. I can hardly wait!

I also attached the sign, binoculars, and the "work belt" in which to store the binoculars to the second floor handrail. I simply turned the top of the work belt over the rod and stitched it in place! There's are two sets of on each side of the open central space....just opposite one another.

Above is another view of the binoculars attached to the hand railing.

(Above: The arrival of the GENIE LIFT!)

The Dock Street Theater in Charleston is also part of the Office of Cultural Affairs....just like The City Gallery. The Dock Street Theater has a genie lift....and we borrowed it in order to install the 45 chiffon banners covered in free-motion embroidered "decisions"....sentences and questions that reflect the variety of silent options that weave through daily thought "Should I wear the red shirt or the blue one?" or "Should I tell him I'm pregnant?" or "I'm not too drunk to drive!"

One of the interns started "touching up" the portrait frames. I knew that moving and installing this many pieces would cause damage to the frames. There's no way to be careful enough to avoid a few dents and scratches. Thus, the frames are intentionally "weathered" looking....which also "matches" the peeling paint look of the two door units. We used "crackle medium" and regular, white acrylic paint to achieve this look (below....detail of a Decision Portrait frame.)

Above: Crackle medium and white acrylic paint to create a "weathered" looking frame. Touching the frames up with white paint is easy.

Above: View of some of the hung portraits....hung and "touched up"....PERFECT! the GENIE LIFT! Here's a view of it from the second floor (above).

Above: The genie lift, as seen on the first floor!

Above: The top of the Genie Lift....looking to the ceiling high above.....where I would be installing black painted wooden strips to the I-beams from which the chiffon banners (on wooden dowel rods) would hang.

Above: The Genie Lift. I can safely say that I'm now an EXPERT at using this machine.

First....I read all the instructions and warnings....

...including the collision hazard signs....the "common sense" suggestions....

....the "serious injury" warnings....

....what "NOT TO DO" lists....

...and got scared by the word "aerial".....until....

....getting to the "power" button and lights....

...and carefully reading about the UP and DOWN switches inside the "cage".

Soon, I was a pro! The genie lift only goes straight up and straight down. It is very wobbly while extended. I could only reach as far as I dared....and then....down....remove the stabilization legs, move the machine, reattach the legs, and go up again. I did this at least twenty times.....hanging a few banners with each ascension.

Slowly the installation started to take shape.

I got comfortable so far above the cement floor.

Erin Glaze took these photos of me working on the Genie Lift.

Soon, the first floor area looked like this (above).

The view up started to look great!

The view from the second floor walkways started to look like the silent internal thoughts....sort of heavenly. Please note the binoculars now have something on which to focus!

The view from the second floor is great. I'll have more photos as soon as the Friday reception gets here.....I'm exhausted, happy, and excited for the opening!


Magpie's Mumblings said...

Absolutely stunning - very huge congratulations! Really wish so much that I could see this in person but I'll have to make do with your pictures and description. Must admit that I'm glad it wasn't me that had to go up in that lift - I would have altogether too busy hanging on and shaking to get anything done!! Kudos to you.

Connie Akers said...

CONGRATULATIONS! Great things keep happening due to all your creative energies & hard work. I'll look forward to seeing you at the opening. PS. I've always loved old keys too

coral-seas said...

It looks amazing, Susan. I wish that I could be there to see it in person :-(

When you began talking about the exhibition, it sounded a long way off. I can't believe how quickly it has come around, nor the tremendous amount of work you have completed for it.

Enjoy Friday.

Kim Bendillo said...

'Heavenly' is a good description!
What a wonderful account of what goes in to such an extensive installation--and labor of Love!
You have worked so hard on this--and the result is fabulous. Enjoy every minute of it--you deserve it!


MosaicMagpie said...

Oh, Susan it is finally coming together and I am so excited for you. What I can see it looks fabulous.
Love to you,

Christine said...

Another triumph in the making! You certainly do make some amazing art, wish I was in the US and could see it in person. Your photos give a very good feeling of the show though, looking forward to seeing a few more.
Congratulations from across the Pacific
Christine in sunny Sydney Australia

kay said...

WOW! What a HUGE accomplishment. Once again you have done more than anyone could imagine. I know you have put your heart and soul into this installation. Enjoy the've certainly earned this party. Congratulations!

Caron said...

I really, really wish I could be there... Alas, I am stuck in Michigan. Take lots of pictures, please!

Gerrie said...

This is just amazing. I never dreamed that my portrait would be part of such a stunning installation. I wish I could fly across the country to see this.

Julie said...

You are definitely brave and I so admire your dedication. I don't think I could have gone up in that little crane. The exhibition looks amazing. Congratulations! Enjoy your moment! xx


I'm so excited for you and I'm sure you are way busy (how you find time to post these is beyond me!!)!!! I wish I could be there, but seeing all these wonderful photos really gives me a good idea of what your show will be and is!!! I'll be with you in thought all evening tomorrow..hang in there, break a leg and CONGRATS!!! Love you!! --Sonya

Kathy said...

The installation looks fantastic! Have a great time at the opening--enjoy all the compliments and raves--you deserve them!

arlee said...

Congrats,The Suze! It looks absolutely astounding and i so wish i could see it in person! Your hard work, dedication and talent are clearly visible--thank you so much for sharing this part of the process too.

Nellie's Needles said...

KUDOS! This is amazing! Amazingly wonderful!!!!

It doesn't surprise me that your fabulous and full of meaning work has found this wonderful venue to be shared with so many viewers.

Jackie said...

Wow Susan. I'm speechless. Its beautiful and a great achievement, both in terms of pieces made, and the hanging itself.
(I heard recently about someone hanging an exhibition in a gallery and they needed a ladder, but the assistant wasn't allowed to go up the ladder because they hadn't had the 'Ladder induction'. Thats UK 'Health and Safety for you)
I hope you get thousands of visitors and hundreds of sales and much acclaim which you deserve.

Jackie said...

Wow Susan. I'm speechless. Its beautiful and a great achievement, both in terms of pieces made, and the hanging itself.
(I heard recently about someone hanging an exhibition in a gallery and they needed a ladder, but the assistant wasn't allowed to go up the ladder because they hadn't had the 'Ladder induction'. Thats UK 'Health and Safety for you)
I hope you get thousands of visitors and hundreds of sales and much acclaim which you deserve.

JYA Fiberarts said...

This is a fantastic example of what a creative mind, hard work and determination can achieve! This is an inspiration to us all. Congratulations on this stunning exhibit!

Stella Dora von Swineburg said...

Wow! What a lot of hard work! Thank you for sharing the process. The show looks fantastic, wish I could attend. Best wishes, Tecu'Mish

Anonymous said...

love the chiffon thoughts. wonderful addition of motion to your 'moving' work. once again, xoxo and appreciate your genius.

vfunkcurrie said...

my comment was not suPOSEd to be anonymous.

Anonymous said...

I am wowed by everything you do, Suzan. Even your knack for choosing the right gallery to show off your keys to success. Brilliant is all I can say. You will sell out and we ALL can't wait to see what's next. Charleston will love you for such contemporary and meaningful art.
Carole Rothstein

neki desu said...

what a delight! thank you for sharing this part too.Congratulations on a wonderful body of don't need a genie lift. you ARE a genie

Arykat Si said...

Hi Susan, your work is awesome! Incidentally, I'd like to use one of your pictures as a cover photo for a Malaysian arts content website I run called, Eksentrika. We will credit and tag a link to your blog of course. It would be great to get a positive response from you as I am also interested to write a feature on you. Hope to hear from you soon.

co-editor of Eksentrika