Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Second trip to Wisconsin- The Forevertron and other sights!

   My second work related trip to Madison Wisconsin for the greater part of October ( Think corn mazes, long roads oscillating over dells with bursts of vibrant colors announcing autumn punctuated with pumpkin vendors to add an extra peppering of carotene orange, deer tracks that tell the tale of their size and gender, geese flying in endless variety of the V formation. Some flight patterns organized and some mutated, with every possibility between, always verbalized by honks and chatter, monstrous wind turbines that would have Don Quixote shitting his pants as if in a fever dream, towns like Black Earth, Robins sentinel within the skeletal structures of landscaped crabapple trees like an agent of some strange immune system attacking any other bird that penetrates, haunted hotels, missed black metal shows, and incredibly perplexing downtown Madison traffic patterns and parking!!!!! ) had many things to be noted visually and existentially.
   In what once was a lead mine now operates an attraction called Cave on the Mound. Basically a cave exposed by a dynamite blast. The cave is beautiful and the tours are run by the same family that once mined lead from the region. Here are some images that I took along the tour.

I especially liked the "total darkness" part of the tour where the tour guide ( a bartender from Black Earth, WI ) turns out all the artificial lights to let you see the darkness. Truly total darkness!
Next I visited The Forevertron.

The Forevertron is the life work of Dr. Evermore. Promoted as the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world, it is a crazily complex pastiche of recognizable parts and things that only Dr. Evermore would be able to trace back to the original use. Dr. Evermore's family is in the industrial demolition business so he has his pick of the most monstrous parts of contraptions that some of us only dream of tinkering with.

Like some steam punk's fever dream this sculpture sprawls throughout the area with highly organized parts in piles waiting to be added. Several components of the sculpture have purpose- such as the giant dragon which is a musical instrument and the heart of the Forevertron itself which is like an observatory for the ascension of Dr. Evermore into outer space once he passes from this mortal shell.
My research has hinted that Dr. Evermore was also one of the artisans involved in creating the House on the Rock displays and exhibits.( see former post on the subject of House on the Rock in Wisconsin).
I intend on posting more about this incredible work and site in the future- this is not my last encounter with Dr. Evermore!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Drawing for Epic wrap party in Orlando

This blog is usually reserved for things that have actually made it into the world but in this post I am displaying something that didn't quite make it. This drawing (pencil, blood and acrylic ink on paper mounted to slate rock) was made to be shown at an Epic wrap party in Orlando organized by Heidi Kneisl. Epic is a health care software company in Wisconsin that I have been doing tons of mural work for with a large crew of scenic artists working for The Nassal Company out of Orlando Fl.
This post is being published to prove that the drawing actually exists although the promise of it arriving for the event was flubbed.
Sorry guys!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Largest Carousel in the World at House on the Rock

Video shot by Kym O'Donnell. A view of the carousel inside the House on the Rock. Boasting not a single horse but instead fabulous hybrids and monsters.

House on the Rock - The Magician

House on the Rock- Esmeralda

Esmeralda is an automaton fortune teller in the themed main street area of House on the Rock.

Madison Wisconsin Chapter 2- House on the Rock

The area around Madison Wisconsin is teeming with strange attractions to tempt the curious or bored. However, my first stay there only allowed me to go to the House on the Rock. I say "only" but the House on the Rock was plenty for me to take in and think about. The place still haunts me and I encourage anyone who is the Madison area to spend a day there. The attraction is the creation of one Alex Jordon who built it over 30 years as a tourist attraction and architectural oddity. Basically, it is a self guided tour through one man's bizarre taste. Mr. Jordon was a collector and fabricator ( and employed many people to fabricate his twisted vision ) who wanted the world to come to his doorstep, for a price. Many of the displays are totally themed environments- A giant octopus fighting a three story whale, an old main street with shops and automated vignettes, a maze of automated music making machines and the largest indoor carousel in the world.
The Infinity Room. Part of the actual House on the Rock.
 There is little to say about The House on the Rock because it almost defies a rational reason to exist. All I can do is again recommend that it be a priority stop for any middle American tourist.
Bizarre weapons displayed in a massive unpredictable collection.

Mr. Jordon's collection of marionettes (one case that is)

Japanese Garden ( Midwestern style) on the exterior of the house
I suppose one way to get the whacked appeal of this place is to post a few videos taken there which I will add to the blog one by one following this post.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Madison Wisconsin August 1st - Sept 11th 2013- Chapter One

"Mad City" some call it, a college town within striking distance of Milwaukee and Chicago, and rightly so because this town and surrounding area offer some of the strangest sites in Wisconsin. I have been working on a project in Madison from the 1st of August through September 11 ( when I flew back to Tampa, Fl) and have a few reports to post on this less thought of section of America.

The capital building downtown Madison during a Saturday farmer's market in early September.
The first chapter of this tale is about the cultural gulf between the midwest and Florida concerning graffiti. The laws in Madison are particularly harsh when it comes to graffiti. It is as if the policy makers looked around the country, saw some situations they did not like, and adjusted local laws to head off the street artists. In my view it would be far more interesting if every wall was a possibility and such activity were encouraged rather than vilified.
The landscape becomes a bit complex when some murals are actually sanctioned by the local "powers that be" in a sea of very low tolerance for the practice. But, with these obstacles in the path, there is something to be said of the artists that find those opportunities to create a work of public art.
Enter Dolla. With a little research Dolla found a business with a wall that is exempt from Madison's rather strict control over graffiti. Mother Fool's Coffeehouse - http://www.motherfools.com/ - has a wall that artists can use to bring their vision to the street, if only for a month or two, until the next mural goes  up ( or rather over ).
Dolla is an Orlando based artist by way of New Jersey. My conversations with him have lead to a deeper understanding of what modivates muralists to create these temporary works of public art. In many ways the drives are the same as what I recognize in myself, a desire to open up a conversation with the viewing public using unexpected techniques. So, here I will document his process, with a surprise ending.
Day 1- basic lay out. The wall and knee wall to the left had already been based out black.

Day 2- The mural begins in ernest. 

Once the mural was complete it was not the end of the project. A few weeks after the mural went up Dolla enlisted the aid of several coworkers to create a pile of gold treasure to leave at the mural site.
So a pile of items painted metallic gold was left like a offering to the neighborhood or the gold hoarding demon pictured in the mural. I especially liked this fluidly evolving work after the gold offering. It is a classic artist intervention and I only wish we could have had a camera on the site to see how the viewing public reacted.