Here is an image of the finished and installed piece I made for Lighten Up Spartanburg, a public art project brought to life by the Spartanburg Art Museum. The bulb stands at a little over 6' tall, is located at 1802 Drayton Road, and will go up for auction in April of 2018. "Lighten Up Spartanburg is a large scale public art project that bolsters the cultural vitality of downtown Spartanburg, expands the local economy through tourism, provides opportunities to local and regional artists, and fosters connections between local businesses and the arts"(www.spartanburgartmuseum.org). It consists of 28 light bulbs by 36 regional artists. Each one is different, and they are finished in a variety of techniques. Guided by the museum's virtual tour and interactive map , visitors who want to find all of the bulbs are taken on a beautiful tour of the city that reacquaints them with everything Spartanburg was, and what it can be. It introduces 300 square feet of public art to downtown and the surrounding areas, and helps reach out to all facets of the community.
My piece, "Bender's Big 'Burg Bulb" was one of the last ones to be installed. In the spirit of the bulbs, I didn't build it alone, but had help from all the members of the community. After hearing my initial idea, the museum gave me a place to work (thank you for not making me haul it upstairs to my studio!) and set out a series of collection buckets throughout the city. We asked for small personal items, plastic toys, bobbles, throw away items people would have in their pockets, and more. Before the day of construction I covered the form in wire and used a plaster stop to create the bulb's decorative swirl, then I coated the whole form with a concrete scratch coat an went off to find a suitable colorful stucco finish. This was no easy task, most homes are not bright colors, and it took several attempts before I could convince the stucco provider I really did want these hues. Colors this bright had not been made by them in the past, and the individual working with me had to call the specialists in Atlanta to see if they could find a color combination or formula that would create the vibrant hues I wanted. Luckily, they figured it out in time and I was able to pick the buckets of finish up on my way to the final installation.
I was worried we wouldn't get much of anything in the collection buckets, but the town delivered, and on the day of construction the museum had heaps upon heaps of colorful personal artifacts, and an army of adults and children willing to help me assemble the behemoth. I worked one color at a time, and as I laid on the stucco, people from the town pushed their small treasures into the surface, creating a colorful variation of the traditional pebble dash technique. Some items are pretty, some are scary, some are funny, and some have great personal meaning to the person that donated them. All-in-all, I think this is a great representation of the people in this area, we are all different, and weird, and crazy, and sometimes we don't make sense, but when we come together, we can create something beautiful.