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.
“INDU: Commensalists and Hand Me Downs” Installation, Oregon College of Arts and Craft
INDU: Commensalists and Hand Me Downs Mixed media installation 12 ft x 12 ft x 12 ft 2008
This work came from an earlier residency at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 2006. I finished cutting the plates and printing the prints that came from that residency, while I was in residence at the Oregon College of Art and Craft in 2007. This installation was created for the 2008 AIR Exhibition that brought back all the participating artists for a show. I combined a large drawing, archival digital C-prints, woodcut prints, commercial mesh banners and ephemera to create the effect INDU had on me in 2006.
This work has been featured in a National Parks Publication,
“Stilts and Cranes,” South Side Elementary School, Miami, Florida
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.
“Today Is…”, an artist’s book by Tom Virgin and Michael Hettich
Today Is 3 in x 9 in x .5 in 2011
This book was a collaboration between Tom Virgin and Michael Hettich for Arthur Jaffe’s 90th Birthday. Hettich and Virgin related years of teaching experience to a school of fish. This book is one of several collaborations by the two that revolve around teaching and learning.Arches 88 is the paper used for the accordion fold body of the work, and Unryu wrapped book boards provide the covers.
This book is an editon of 5. Evan Robarts and Fifty-Five have also collaborated on the faux Priority labels that are collaged into the book.
Your School, an artist’s book (glass/copper)
8 in x 45 in x 3 in (open) artist’s book 2012
“Your School” is an accordion structure book created from fused glass and cut copper drawings, bound with multiple ply waxed linen thread, and text printed on bands of Hahnemühle Ingres with a Vandercook 3 Proof Press. The book employs the metaphor of keeping a low maintenance pet (a fish) to examine multiple challenges that schools, and especially young people, are currently facing in Florida and Miami. This book is an edition of two with the second book being sewn with a codex binding.
This book came from my admiration of a friend’s creative use of non-book-like media to create a book. The glass process was enhanced by the advice and guidance of Gail Dahlberg at the Anderson Center at Tower View. The color and glass inclusions fused into window glass created a transparent structure for a very opaque situation, the state of schools. The fish metaphor came from a continuing collaboration with Michael Hettich, a “gringo Magical Realist” poet from Miami.
Broadsheets, work on paper
2008 brought a new wrinkle to my production: Broadsheets. John Cutrone taught an introduction to broadsheets at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts that was anything but beginning. His teaching and guidance helped me to become a part of al-Mutannabi Starts Here group of artists. For more on this, check out the Jaffe website: http://www.library.fau.edu/depts/spc/JaffeCenter/collection/al-mutanabbi/index.php
Another opportunity to work with writers came through the Miami SWEAT Portfolio. A group of Miami writers and artists responded to a call for broadsheet collaborations that responded to the concept of “sweat” in any or all of its permutations. Two meetings at Sweat Records in Miami in 2009 and 2011 provided a venue for the meet and greet between the visual/word artists. The portfolio continues to grow.
The SWEAT Portfolio also introduced me to several writers with national reputations and local addresses. Several years of artist’s residencies have brought a wealth of experience from artists in other disciplines to bear on my practice. I am always amazed and charmed to find that that guy (or girl) who I say hello to at Book and Books in Coral Gables is also a writer. Poet Michael Hettich and I began collaborating as a result of meeting during a SWEAT get together. In 2011 we collaborated on his poem, “Flood.” The effort produced four broadsheets that weave images through this beautiful poem. Our broadsheets were purchased for the collection of Alberto Ibargüen at the 2011 Locust Projects “Smash and Grab” Fundraiser.
Various other works spinning out of public art projects and other ventures are included in this gallery.
Right There, Installation at ArtCenter South Florida, 800 Building, 2006
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.
Mujo-Mujeni, Phase I and II, artists’ books by Leila Leder Kremer and Tom Virgin
These books are collaborations with Leila Leder Kremer, studying the dismantling of aging Downtown Miami’s down at the heels former icons: the Burdine Quartermine Building (the Pink Building), Dupont Plaza, and the Everglades Hotel. All were fashionable in their day, but as times changed and profit displaced value in the housing markets, the buildings were leveled and replaced. Mujo-Mujeni Phase I and Phase II have two parts each, one by Leder Kremer and one by Virgin, each taking a distinctive view of the process of destruction…and what remains.
Mujo-Mujeni, Phase I artist’s book 6” x 9” x 1” 2005
This is a two sided artist’s book (dos a dos) with photographs and haiku on one side by Virgin, and the same on the other side by Leder Kremer. Both sides depict a short period of time in Downtown Miami in which major physical changes occurred. The book is printed on a HP DesignJet500 using Rives BFK and Arches 88 in an edition of twenty.
Mujo-Mujeni, Phase II artist’s book 6” x 9” x 2” 2006.
Two separate books are bound together in interlocking covers in this volume, printed on a HP DesignJet500 using Rives BFK and Arches 88 in an edition of twenty. The books uses a serpentine structure to show digital imaging, collage, relief printing and haiku by Leder Kremer and Virgin.
Every Lid Finds a Pot, an artist’s book
“Every Lid Finds a Pot” in an artist’s book in an edition of one. Drawn and painted on one side, with hand lettering and collage on a full sheet of Okawara (36 inches by 72 inches) the book is folded into sixteen panels and cut to create a serpentine book. The covers are ink dyed mango paper over book board with cotton ribbon ties. The book is mixed media: charcoal, ink, and gesso. The back side of the book is collaged with white paper maps of South Florida and Baltimore on the natural colored Okawara paper. When displayed backlit, hung vertically, both the images and maps are visible.
Ganko, an artist’s book
“Ganko,” is an observation of overlapping cultures, housed in a multiple quire binding. After a class in single/complex quire bindings by Julia Miller at Oregon College of Art and Craft in 2007, I couldn’t wait to put the knowledge to work. During my residency there during summer 2007 this book came together with letterpress printed covers (thanks to Moe Snyder), digital imaging on sheets of Mohawk Superfine Text, and end sheets of kimono fabrics from the Japanese Gardens in Portland, Oregon. Akiko Watamori, my friend (and my bird Ashlynn’s Veterinarian) gave me a window on Japanese culture. I gave her a tour of Miami. The result, including some random images of Portland, Oregon, became “Ganko” in an edition of three.