This proposal from 2011 followed a series of collaborations between Michael Hettich and Tom Virgin. After working together in the SWEAT Broadsheet Project, Hettich and Virgin with contributions from Jay Bellicchi and Evan Robarts, worked on creating a series of billboards that merged poetry, visual art, the iconography of Miami, and their mutual concerns about education. The challenge was to create something that could be “read” billboard style, at 65+ mph. Using a metaphor of fish and schools, these works were designed for use on billboards and bus backs in urban Miami neighborhoods.
As always, I am grateful for opportunities to propose for various institutions. The work in this gallery was created fully on paper and in a digital world, however it was not funded for completion in physical reality. I am quite fond of these pieces, and some came close to being realized. Continue reading
Stilts and Cranes three watercut sculptures in cypress frame elements, benches, slate black board element, Stiltsville structure with roof 2007
This work was commissioned by Schools of Choice/Magnet Schools for an interior courtyard of one of the oldest schools in Miami Dade County Public Schools. Using the original blueprints from the school district and site visits, I designed an outdoor classroom for approximately 30 students that included seating, a blackboard and sculpture elements. At three of four compass points I placed images of things that could be found at the corresponding compass point: To the East, I made a relief print (watercut aluminum/powdercoated) of Stiltsville and Biscayne Bay that was supported in a structure reminiscent of the Stiltsville houses out on the Bay, incorporating a large natural slate chalkboard; To the West, I made a relief print (watercut aluminum/ powdercoated) of a Sand Hill Crane in the Everglades, a resident of the Everglades’ ecosystem; To the South, in a nod to the rampant construction in the early 2000’s, I made an image of the Construction Cranes that were seemingly everywhere in the sky. Seating was provided near each image on three 12 ft x 12 ft square concrete slabs using concrete pillars (stamped with both Sand Hill and Construction Cranes) and native Cypress plank seats.
A landscape plan with native plants and wildlife attracting, flowering shrubs through the generosity of Rick Yasko, Landscape Architect and Visual Artist. Both the landscape plan and my original design were created to supply an ongoing conversation between this classic 1920’s Spanish Courtyard, the vanishing community of Stiltsville, the Everglades with its indigenous species of wildlife, and the rapid changes to the urban Brickell corridor.
Duty and Remembrance, ID Wall 16 ft x 12 ft x 6 in watercut aluminum with powdercoat 2006
Duty and Remembrance, Towers with Fire Fighter 8 ft x 3 ft x 4 ft watercut aluminum with powdercoat 2006
This two part work was completed for the Florida Keys Council of the Arts and Monroe County Art in Public Places. This piece was awarded in 2006 and completed in 2007. After a site visit, conversations with the Chief, and talks with fire fighters in the Grove, I began my proposal. I combined images of places that the fire fighters frequented while they were off duty with a tribute to fire fighters who lost their lives while they were on duty. The wave elements on the ID wall came from Japanese iconography. The fire fighter with the axe was a portrait that I did of a retiring veteran fire fighter in the Grove. The same fire fighter was my model for the fire fighter at rest, leaning on the tower elements.
INDU Banner mesh banner 60 ft x 16 ft 2007-2008
In 2007 during the frenzy leading up to Art Basel/Miami Beach, Chris Ingalls of Ingalls & Associates offered me a wall. Delighted, I asked “where”? She pointed at the 60 ft x 16 ft wall on the west side of her gallery space. I was sorting and processing the images that were to become the book, INDU: Commensalists and Hand Me Downs, and welcomed the opportunity to create something that would use the space. As is often the case, my projects take a significant amount of time to complete, and evolve as I work on them. This banner preceded the small installation I created for Oregon College of Art and Craft’s 2008 Artist in Residence Exhibition following my residency there in summer 2007.
The echo of the environment surrounding Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (INDU), was evident in the not quite gentrified atmosphere of Wynwood. During installation I saw the inhabitants of Wynwood without the art loving crowds in place. It was a significantly different place. As different as the urban corridor in Northern Indiana between Gary, Indiana and Michigan City, Michigan was from the National Park located just North of I-94. Different struggles with similar attributes made this odd billboard fit right in.
He Said, She Said 9 ft x 12 ft x 6 in 2008
This work came from a very old drawing, carefully preserved in my wallet for almost 20 years. The works both small and large are watercut PVC with fabric collage. It now resides in Gainesville, Florida in a private collection. The smaller work with more intricate collage is approximately 3 ft x 4 ft.
Escape 3: Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll 11 inches x 15 inches x .5 inc 2008
In this third and final volume of the Escape Series, the artist lands on Duval Street in Key West during a charming festival called Fantasy Fest. It is a cautionary tale with seven maps, seven pop ups, seven prints and accompanying stories from the Key West Citizen’s Police Briefs. Hard to believe, but I assure you, it is all true. I have seen it.
Book block is sewn with a kettle stitch using plywood covers wrapped in white denim with a plain brown wrapper. The endsheets are katazome paper. The edition size is 20.
This book is dedicated to a long time friend, Rick Reasin.
Escape 2 11 inches x 15 inches x .5 inc 2004
Escape 2 picks up where “escape*… restrictions apply” left off, from the 7 Mile Bridge, headed west, geographically, and from my status as a solo traveler to becoming an honored guest of the native Florida Keys’ residents on my escape. Here I take the highway to places only a native would know, and join friends on, in, or under the waters of the Florida Keys.
The book has seven woodcut prints colorized from the original prints, unryu overleafs, altered charts, and a 1,500 word essay by the artist that speaks to the mysteries of the Keys and their residents. I am joined by a hunter/killer and earth mother in my travels from the 7 Mile Bridge to Key West and the waters off shore.
“escape*… restrictions apply,” 11 inches x 15 inches x .5 inc 2003
This is Tom Virgin’s first artist’s book. It is the first of three books examining the concept of “escape” in the context of a trip from Miami to the Florida Keys. During the course of this journey (escape* part one) the artist views various landmarks that break up the miles between Card Sound Road and the 7-mile Bridge. Also addressed along the way are more metaphorical walls, bridges, and escapes of another nature.
“escape*… restrictions apply” is printed on Arches 88, containing 17 pages. The book block is sewn with a kettle stitch, and glued into blue denim covered wood covers, with Japanese Katazome paper end sheets. The book is 11 inches x 15 inches x .5 inch. Fonts used are arial and Scott Ulrich’s Cheap Signage. Content includes an essay by the artist, seven digitally colored original woodcut prints by the artist, and maps showing the location of the images in the prints by Mile Marker in the Florida Keys. Facts and figures about the Keys follow the essay and prints.
The work pictured here is a series of prints taken from repeated trips to the Florida Keys, visiting a long time friend. Sadly, my friend has passed away, but the friendship and experience of seeing the Keys as a native still lingers. The works begin on Card Sound Bridge and move south and west to the Seven Mile Bridge. The second group goes from Big Pine to just south of Key West. The third group runs around the main drag in Key West, Duval Street. These images are a snapshot of what happens during a Duval Crawl during Fantasy Fest. These images are gathered into the Escape Series of artist’s books as well.
Each print is 16 inches by 20 inches, edition of 20, woodcut relief prints on Japanese papers (except ATG and the Card Sound Bridge and Tracy and Bahia Honda Bridge, 30 inches x 34 inches).