Kill the Engine

Good Job, Earth

By Michael Sieben

This week I wanted to share with you two things: a mural project and a clown sculpture. Let's start with the mural because clowns should always be saved until last. 

A few weeks ago I was commissioned to create a 10' x 30' outdoor public mural on the side of a restaurant in downtown Austin. The mural is part of an ongoing public art project by Frank (that's the name of the restaurant) and is sponsored by Neuro, which is a company that manufactures beverages. Each month a different artist or group of artists design and execute a mural on the side of Frank. At the end of the month the wall is buffed and another artist takes their turn. Because of the quick turnaround, artists are asked to not spend more than two days painting their mural. That part really stressed me out before I started. I normally don't work larger than about 2' x 2', and paintings that size usually take me about a week to complete. I had no idea how this was going to work, but the guys that organized this project told me that six other artists had successfully painted their murals in the allotted time period. So my thoughts were, "Well… if those assholes can do it…" (Just kidding about the assholes part.)

I'll quickly run through the process in case you're interested. If you're not interested just scroll down till you see clowns. The first day (actually it was night) we projected the art onto the wall. The two gentlemen in this blurry photo are Jason Archer and Josh Row. They were a huge help and this thing definitely wouldn't have happened in two days without their assistance. 

Here's what the line art looked like. 

Nothing to it but to do it. The next nine images are a series of photos that chart the progression of the painting. We worked from about 6 PM till midnight the first night and 10 AM till 10 PM the next evening. Despite my anxiety, the mural went really quickly and smoothly. 

Many thanks to Taylor Norwood, Kristen Garcia, Maria Hansen, and Francisco Martinez for generously donating their time and energy. If any of you are ever working on a mural and need an extra set of hands, don't hesitate to give me a call and I'll do everything in my power to come up with a really good excuse why I can't… more jokes. But for real, thanks y'all. 

We had a balls to the walls beautiful sunset the second night when we were working. Good job, Earth. 

Here's what the completed mural looked like in the dark through the lens of a mediocre camera. I planned to go back and get a proper installation photo, but Nike rented out the parking lot for SXSW (literally the day after I finished the mural) and I couldn't get inside the gates they constructed. I'm no athlete. This is at 4th and Colorado just in case you're in Austin for SXSW and want to check it out. No pressure.

OK, so now let's talk clowns. Okay Mountain was recently commissioned by the Austin Museum of Art - Arthouse to construct a miniature golf sculpture. The sculpture would join eight other functioning mini-golf sculptures in an outdoor exhibit at their Laguna Gloria site. Essentially a miniature golf course that was comprised of nine unique sculptures created by local artists or art collectives. 

We (Okay Mountain) wanted to create a sculpture that looked like something you'd actually find at an actual miniature golf course vs. trying to get super-conceptual about what a miniature golf sculpture could possibly be. When we toured the grounds where our sculpture would be installed, we were all pretty inspired by the remnants of a party scene that we stumbled across. Apparently teenagers sometimes boat over to Laguna Gloria and sneak into the grounds late at night and smoke cigarettes and drink beer on the shore of the lake. We used this as a point of inspiration for our sculpture to make something that addressed the physical location of the show. Our plan was to design a sculpture that looked like it existed in the aftermath of a teenage party. So essentially creating a miniature golf hole and then vandalizing it and dressing it with discarded cigarette butts and Solo cups. Here's some preliminary sketches by Nathan Green and Ryan Hennessee that I think are pretty awesome. 

Rather than getting super long-winded with the photo captions, I'll just briefly explain the process of creating this piece and then let you scroll through the photos at your leisure. First, the clown decision: we thought that a clown was probably the most easily identifiable mini-golf element besides a windmill. And the technical issues associated with fabricating a working windmill were out of scope with our budget. So, clown. 

Ryan Hennessee created a small clay model of the sculpture. 

Then we purchased some huge pieces of styrofoam and basically inhaled tons of styrofoam particles for a couple of weeks. Once the styrofoam sculpture was finished, we paid a local outdoor sculpture fabricator to coat the piece with a hard plastic coating which was then painted with enamel. I should mention that before we coated the sculpture we tore into it with hammers so that it would look damaged. Kind of hard to do after spending so many hours working on something. Also, after it was coated and painted we took a can of spray paint and added some really juvenile graffiti to the sculpture. Again, hard moves. 

Photo by Sterling Allen

Here's what the finished sculpture looked like in our studio. Oh, I also wanted to mention that the cups and beer cans were cast resin. That seems important. And the cigarette butts were made out of clay and paint. No found objects, all archival. 

Photo by Sterling Allen

Here's what it looked like installed at the Laguna Gloria grounds. Okay Mountain is an art collective with ten members and oftentimes projects are realized without full participation from each individual member. This particular project was executed almost entirely by two members: Nathan Green and Ryan Hennessee. Just wanted to give those dudes their dues. 

Also, here are seven photos that I shot when I was trying to get my art photography on. Are they convincing? 

Movie Review: License To Drive

I asked my wife if she had a case of "The Coreys" when this movie came out and she said that of course she did. I told her that I probably had a case of "The Pamela Andersons" when this movie came out and she told me that that was gross because Pamela Anderson was a grown woman at the time. I had no idea how to explain to her how a teenage boy's genitals think so we dropped the conversation after that. 

Previously – Because I'm an Asshole

 

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