Saturday, December 18, 2010

RUST

Rust began its life when a friend told me a story about growing up near a dilapidated Powerhouse that he saw everyday of his youth. This Powerhouse was rusting from top to bottom and for many years, he watched it erode away.





The Hudson and Manhattan Powerhouse is an industrial age masterpiece. Built between 1906 and 1908, the nine-story Romanesque Revival structure powered the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, now known as the PATH train.
The Powerhouse's Architect was John Oakman of Carrere and Hastings, who graduated from the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. James J. Ferris, for whom one of Jersey City's high schools is named, laid the foundation. One of the engineers in the project was L.B. Stillwell, whose firm designed the first Niagara Falls power plant. John Van Vleck designed the structure's steel frame, Hugh Hazleton of Englewood, New Jersey, the electrical machinery, and the boilers by Babcock & Wilcox in Bayonne.
With the construction of the Powerhouse, for the first time people could travel between New York and New Jersey directly by rail on the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad. President Theodore Roosevelt himself gave the order for the engineers to flip the switch to activate the building.

http://www.jcpowerhouse.org/


One day, 20 years later he and his business partner were sitting around their conference room table trying to come up with a name for their new company. The only thing that came to mind was RUST! They are big supporters of my art, and they needed a sign for the reception area of their media company. http://www.rustcompany.com/ I was, and am still working on my graphic novel, but it seemed like a good cause so decided to take a break, and I volunteered to try something different.


This project commenced as a cumulative idea based on a logo that the Rust Company initially designed. I promptly set to work re-designing and embellishing this great new sign.


This is my first sketch of the transformation of their logo into a 3 dimensional sign using found objects, etc...

This is my second color rough to make my point in the creative presentation.


After about three months of collecting and saving found objects in Manhattan and Brooklyn during the dead of winter, I was ready to get started. My studio looked a lot like a Sci-Fi movie set during this period. I have materials sorted into piles, like electronics, piping, nuts and bolts, etc... And then there are the tools, and art supplies. I used many different tools during this process of deconstruction and reconstruction.



Some of the materials that made it into this final work of art consist of broken children’s toys, computer circuits, automobile parts, plumbing fixtures and foam packaging just to name a few.


Most of the forgotten relics assembled into the final artwork “Rust” are unrecognizable from their original form. I combined this conglomeration of mismatched and discarded consumer goods into a cohesive, obsessive, non-functional machine to give them a new lease on life.


The first thing I did was to scale up the sign to approximately 45 x 48 inches. I used a heavy duty 3/4 inch plywood that I could attach everything to. In the end, I can hang it on a wall like a painting. I then set out to draw the original RUST logo onto the plywood to use as a guide.


I started placing objects into the limitations of each letter of the sign. Everything was trial fit first, then attached with sheet metal screws or epoxy. You'll need to use a special glue, (polyurethane adhesive, like Gorilla glue, or a hot glue gun for small bits), paint, and hot-knife, to work with Styrofoam. It's a real pain in the ass to work with, but the end result can be very cool. Just make sure you are working in an area that can get messy because once you start cutting Styrofoam, it goes everywhere, and for God's sake wear a mask.



My family comes from a TV and Film background, and over the years I have worked doing some special effects, props and stagehand work as well as set decoration. One of the little tricks I've learned is to apply a firm helping of cat litter and Elmer's glue to an object when you want to age it. When the object dries (overnight) you can paint these crunchy little morsels to look like rusted metal and debris. 

First, find a mixing bowl that you can destroy, fill it half way up with cat litter, (buy the large bottle of Elmers glue) and pour about two cups full into it. Stir that nasty mix together (believe me, it smells awful) and then apply it with a firm paint brush or spoon, spread it around and let it sit overnight to dry.


I also used a lot of paper plates in this process. The paint I primarily use is acrylic and as you know, it dries very quick so I constantly have to remix and apply in between drying.


You can see the cat litter and glue really well in the above photo. I know that at this stage you are probably looking at this think thinking; WTF? But, once you add paint, it will all look much more uniform.


Found objects in art are obviously nothing new, some of the work of Robert Rauschenberg and Marcel Duchamp’s work, relied heavily on them. These artists are hunters and gatherers of materials, and fortunately the New York City Streets lend themselves to just such hunting.


Twice a week thousands of people put their worldly belongings out on the street for the artists, homeless and the college students to pilfer. People move out of state, buy new things or die, and if these items don’t end up in art, they may end up in a land fill. Fortunately artists’ have the ability to see the beauty in a bed post or an old tire. These artists’ give us years to evaluate why they chose those items to incorporate into their work.


There were quite a few objects that I couldn't determine their origin, but their design worked perfectly with my project.


On to the paint. I used a combination of acrylic metallic's both jars and tubes. The primary color wash was bronze and some of the iridescent golds and coppers blended with burnt, and raw umber. After numerous coat's of this, their was a washing away process leaving the dark metallic in the cracks and crevices of the work.



It's starting to look like an evil machine... Ha, ha, ha... It must be the beer and duct tape talking.



Okay, here are the close-ups of what you saw further up the page. 



Check out the meat thermometer now. Do you see how the cat litter makes it look like bubbling rust?





Now back to the Powerhouse part of the logo. I played around with a bunch of different ideas, at first it was going to be simple reflective tape in the windows to simulate light. 


That didn't work. I finally decided to use low watt, LEC Lime green electroluminescent night lights. These were big in the 90's, and were readily available before LED's came out. I wanted something simple that wouldn't pose a fire hazard. Looking back on it now, LED lights are much brighter.



Here is the light set-up with the architectural model brick attached before paint. This was one of  the last parts of the sign to be painted, because I didn't fully think the light part through until the end.


Drum roll please...


Plugged in.







The Rust Sign's final resting place.

“Like some of Linders other work, “Rust” at first sight is overwhelming. I found myself looking for a button to turn the damn thing on. It is fantastic, fluid, and employs a true sense of dynamism and locomotion, even though it stands still.”

~Todd Gunzelman, writer

“His use of old broken pipes, rusted steel girders and frayed wiring made me think, I have seen this device somewhere in the New York City Subway system before. I am sure if there were a list of materials and parts that could be made of this project, it would read something like an architectural building list.”

~Sean Welsh, writer

“Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind.” 

~Leonardo da Vinci



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