Saturday, July 23, 2011

CommuniTree - sculpture as toy

Working on the CommuniTree at the Townie Street Party

Most of the armature still visible

It's been an interesting process building this thing. An an artist I generally work solo and have total control over what I make. When I do community based/sourced projects I have to let go of the control and go with people's creativity, energy and ideas - steering them but letting the project go where lots of people's involvement takes it. The CommuniTree project has been that in a huge way. I brought the partially pre-built armature to the Townie Street Party and assembled it with help from my son and a few volunteers. Then something like 100 people contributed their efforts over the course of the evening. Julianne Pinsak had bought two smaller tree pieces last fall and she brought me 200 phone cords sourced from the PTO Thrift Store. My friend Paul Malbeauf brought a huge stash of cords cleaning out his basement. At the end of the Street Party we rolled the tree up the street to the patio of

Rolling it to

Over the next few days a few dozen more people stopped by to help build the tree. Here is a stop motion video shot by Angela Cesere of of some of the building.

Some numbers: the finished piece stands about 8.5' tall and is 8' in diameter. It weighs more than 100 pounds - probably closer to two hundred. We used more than 400 cables ranging from mini-usb, scsi-to-serial, fiber-optic, electrical, phone and power converters, mice and CAT5. It's been suggested that the finished piece would be a great interractive lobby piece for a high tech firm - put out a box of cables and invite visitors to play. With that concept it may never be finished. I like that idea and hope it finds a home along those lines.

CommuniTree is a partnership between the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, and the Milan Art Center. It is for sale and proceeds of the sale will benefit the Street Art Fair and the Milan Art Center. Bid for it here. Full disclosure - I'm the board chair of the Milan Art Center.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

wire and cables and angle-iron oh my

Cast concrete counterweight and lab stool base for Communitree - ready to go and very heavy!

Box of cables for weaving the tree. It won't be enough but it's a good start. Bring me more!

I've been sorting and coiling what feels like MILES of cable getting ready for Monday's Townie Street Party followed by the Ann Arbor Art Fair. I cast the base for the sculpture out of concrete. Still need to organize tools, ladders, etc and finish the armature but the bits are all assembled and ready to haul to town. I'll be in the art activity area during the party. At the end of the evening the tree will roll up Liberty Street to the patio - its home for Art Fair.

I'll be there working on the tree during Art Fair from 1-4pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Come and get involved. The finished piece will be auctioned off as a fundraiser for the Street Art Fair and the Milan Art Center. I'll post a link to the online auction as soon as it goes live - it will be hosted via