I believe it was the summer of 1999, a year out of high school, I lived at this questionably dysfunctional house we lovingly referred to as “The White House”. Lots and lots of things happened there, most of which its best to never speak of again, but I had also experienced one of the first surges of uninhibited and uncontrollable creativity. I was constantly making art at that house, one of my favorite projects was handing a length of wire to each person who entered my room, I instructed them to “Make a dude” and they would bend the wire into what ever character that oozed out of them at the time. I would collect their figure, spray paint it black and then hang it from the ceiling. I had dozens by the time I moved out and they are most certainly still in some dusty box in the corner of a closet somewhere to this day.
Another project I conceived back then was this “parts of a whole” project. I attempted it once, I cut a photo out of a magazine and then cut that photo into six smaller parts, I then handed out a piece of paper and the piece of the picture to six friends and asked them to draw their piece. It seemed like an awesome idea, but given our youth and state of mind, the pieces were quickly lost or destroyed and the project fizzled. I never forgot the concept though, and talked about reinstating it several times, but never quite got it off the ground until about a month ago.
A quirky father/daughter exchange on facebook over a photo of Ed Grimley re-birthed the idea. My dad actually proposed the concept to me. I mentioned that I had had the idea for years and we quickly switched from playful banter to planning the project. Secretly we selected a subject matter while we publicly discussed the logistics.
After hammering out the details, we asked the social-sphere if anyone would like to play and before we knew it we had more people signed up to participate than we had pieces available, and not just locals, we had one participant from San Francisco, one from Maryland and one from Philadelphia.
The paper boards were distributed with a section of the whole picture. We asked that the recipient paint their version of their square and only included the following guidelines:
There is a pattern in your piece that we suggest you more or less follow. The overall value tones will contribute to the final image, so we suggest you make the light colors light and the dark parts dark. Within those parameters, any way you want to interpret the image is just fine with us. And by all means, feel free to use colors. Just because our model is grey doesn’t mean your piece has to be. Feel free to use whatever medium suits you… Paint, chalk, spray paint, collage, coffee stains, whatever. Probably best to avoid food, blood or other bodily substances please. We do have to handle it after you do your part.
We gave everyone two weeks, which actually turned into three because of a few hiccups. The boards trickled in slowly and we weren’t actually actually able to see the final product until the day we assembled them to hang. My brother Dylan, my dad and I made a substrate for the individual pieces to hang on. We did this for two reasons, one because some of the boards had warped a bit due to the wetness of paint and other materials the individual people used but also because the mean people at the weather station had informed us that if we were lucky we would reach a HIGH of NEGATIVE 1. That’s down right, straight up, stupid $%^&S* cold! Pre-preparing the boards made it so that we could assemble in a place that was warm and cozy and only subject ourselves to the bitter cold as very little as possible.
Our preparations paid off and the hang and reveal went off without a hitch. Dylan and Pops had crafted the perfect reveal plan and the brave souls who risked their digits to stand in the cold seemed more than delighted to see their seemingly random squares come together to display the unmistakable Voodoo Child himself. “Its Jimi F*CKING Hendrix!” rang loudly throughout the alley, as everyone cheered and celebrated what we had all done together.
I can’t say I had 100% faith in the project. As the pieces came back to me, I would look and admire each one, for alone they were truly masterpieces. But I didn’t really believe the image would be there, or at least I wasn’t certain it would be that obvious. To my delight I was wrong to question it. It wasn’t only clear, it was crystal clear, unmistakable and beautiful.
If you get a chance, please go down and spend some time with this piece before it is taken by time and the organic nature of Art Alley. Each piece deserves your attention. Every one is hand crafted and remarkable. This was one of my favorite projects and I couldn’t be happier. All my love and thanks to everyone who participated and to those beyond that who are helping celebrate the creation!