This National Park is nestled between Gary, Indiana and Michigan City Michigan spanning almost 20 miles across the southern shore of Lake Michigan on Indiana’s northernmost border. Nestle is probably not the word I should use to describe the relationship this 15,000 acre park has with its neighbors. It is hidden in urban sprawl that spans the southern edge of the Park. A residency there in 2006 had a profound effect on my relationships with the National Parks System, so much so that the images became part of another artist’s book: “INDU: Commensalists and Hand-me-downs.” INDU is the National Park’s acronym for the Park’s longer name, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. My work from this residency is featured on the Parks website (http://www.nps.gov/indu/supportyourpark/2006-Artist,-Tom-Virgin.htm) and in a U.S. Publication about AIR programs in all the National Parks (Drawing New Audiences, Expanding Interpretive Possibilities www.nps.gov/bicy/supportyourpark/upload/-0339415.pdf).
This installation was the product of an artist’s residency at the Glen Arbor Art Associaton in 2005 and ArtCenter South Florida in 2006. The work combined all the elements that eventually became the award winning artist’s book, “Right There” (Winner of the 2006 Florida Artist Book Prize).
It combined drawings, prints, an essay, objects and ephemera from the residency, as well as my childhood in Michigan. This window installation was the laboratory for “Right There.” I am grateful to Claire Bruekel for her support and encouragement with this installation. The piece with the yellow background was one of several other spin offs from this original. The extra pieces wound up in “Right There” or other installations.
This work came from an artist’s residency in a place very close to my heart, Glen Arbor. The Glen Arbor Art Association gave me two weeks in Glen Arbor, Glen Haven, Leeland, Empire, and of course… Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. I grew up in Michigan. This residency brought me back to my childhood. It also produced an installation at Art Center South Florida in the 800 Building’s Large Window Gallery and the 2006 Florida Artist Book Prize for “Right There.” This spot continues to generate images in my head, looking for a space to hold them.
All prints from this series are 16 inches x 20 inches, black on Japanese paper, in an edition of 20.
Thirty years of Florida living did not dim the memory of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Actually when I was a kid it was just plain Sleeping Bear Dunes, complete with Dune Rides in great big American Car dune buggies. A residency at Glen Arbor Art Association in 2005 gave me an opportunity to visit the area and recreate the the park and my childhood memories in this book. “Right There” was the Florida Artist Book Prize winner in 2006 and is now part of the collection at the Bienes Museum of the Modern Book.
This book is a tour through time and space, bouncing around the artist’s head, Glen Arbor/ Glen Haven, Michigan, and the early 1960’s. Much of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has remained unchanged. Memories however may have become better with the passage of time. The book’s covers are basswood, planed, sanded and tied together with leather thongs. The cover art is laser etched into the wood, front and back covers of each chapter. The papers used are Thai Unryu and Arches Cold Press Watercolor 300 and 140 lbs. The book was created in Adobe Photoshop CS2 and Pagemaker 7.0. The font used is Americana. “Right There” has seven chapters, and when closed creates a block approximately 10 inches wide, 12.5 inches tall, and 10 inches deep. A custom denim bag is included for transportation. Each chapter contains one woodcut print, one C-print, one digital scan, and one essay by the artist. The book is an edition of five. The photographs were taken at a residency at Glen Arbor Art Association/ Sleeping Bear Dunes in summer 2004. The toy images, woodcut prints, and book itself were produced in 2006. The essays are semi-accurate memories of the artist’s childhood growing up in Michigan during the 1960’s.