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Avocado on deck.

August 27, 2010

Avo Maria on our back deck.

 

It’s been over a month since my last post – whew! Avo Maria helped me graduate with a 4.0 and I now have time to wrap up her story.   

Once she was moved to the grass area next to the Penrose Library she made quite a stir. I brought my paint and glue rescue kit to campus a few days after the move when I got an e-mail that the fruit was off the pedestal. An adjunct teacher (looked about the age of my son) saw me wrestling with the big mass and helped me reposition it. He then asked me to take his picture with it. While I was touching up the paint a couple of international students came by and wanted me to take their picture with the sculpture, and then another student.  Wow, I was joking when I compared it to the big ball of twine but I think the effect of something so exaggerated and out-of-place must be similar no matter what the object.   

A student was leading a tour of kids into the library and I could hear someone say “Is that an, uh, avocado??” Then 2 men whizzed by in a golf cart (must have been facilities guys) and yelled “We love your avocado!!!” at about 40 miles an hour. A minute later I was startled to see a half-dozen preschoolers racing toward me. I learned from their camp counselor that Maria added some excitement to the summer day camp and was the point the kids would race to every day. One little girl suggested I do another sculpture for next year – the other half.   

Moving crew - even grandma Ruby helped.

 

That weekend I got the crew back together to bring Maria home where she’s resting on our back deck – where else can you fit an eight foot avocado??? I thought all the excitement was over until the next Monday I heard there was a theft report issued. Ha, I guess they noticed it was gone!    

Avocado left an empty spot on the grass - sad.

 

Westword actually interviewed me for a story, go to http://blogs.westword.com/showandtell/2010/08/a_giant_avocado_at_du_was_a_st.php to check it out.   

The experience was great and exhausting and I learned so much about the reaction to the placement of public art. I want to thank everyone that helped me schlep it around town and especially the DU community that embraced the sculpture in such a positive way. I’m searching for a job now, but I learned there’s a call for entries website that lists upcoming public art projects. So, I just might try submitting proposals to see if I can create more huge fruit and actually get paid for it. Maybe an artichoke or a pineapple – that would be interesting…

Avocado down! But she’s ok!

July 6, 2010

Fallen down and can't get up!

 

I received a couple e-mails last night that Avo Maria looked a bit broken up as you can see from the photo sent to me by Jessa – thanks Jessa! When I told Wayne he insisted we jump into action to fix her. It was a little disheartening when we walked up to see the fruit unattached and just floating aimlessly back and forth in the long fountain. The security guard that came by told us they had a wild and windy storm July 4 eve that must have knocked it off its pedestal.   

It’s sitting a little farther back as we had to drive the rods further into the bulk of the sculpture and create a new “belly button” for the central metal rod that attaches it.  There are some scuffs and bruises and she’s not exactly centered as before so if you go by to view – don’t be too critical – she had a rough night!  

This is actually a good lesson for the “placemaking” viewpoint of my research paper. One of the characteristics that made the avocado shape right for the piece was that it was low to the ground and could withstand Colorado weather. But, the placement changed from the big pond – where a viewer would look down on the sculpture – to the top level of the fountain. If the avocado was laid flat up there, all the viewer would see would be a black back-side so I needed to tilt and prop and support. Oh my, how did Lawrence Argent ever figure out how to create that huge Blue Bear without the fear of it toppling through the windows at the Denver Convention Center? 

Wayne soggy, Maria back in business!

 

So, not sure about changes when we move it to the grassy knoll. If you go by to see her send me a report of her condition. Thanks, Terrie

Avocado has a new home!

July 1, 2010

Avo Maria is done!

  

Yay! The floating avocado has been installed at the DU Humanities Garden fountain. Or, as my friend Tonya Everist calls it, “Avo Maria”. It did seem like it would take an act of God to make everything happen but I had a fabulous crew. My husband Wayne, son Ben and friend John Jui helped transport and install today. It may seem like a small thing but the experience helps me understand how the installation of the Blue Mustang at DIA could possibly cost $300,000.  

Carting the sculpture to the site.

  

I ended up renting a cargo van from UHaul and we tied the piece up so it wouldn’t wobble and crush itself on the insides of the van. See the picture of us carrying it to the fountain – it looks like I’m not there but I’m leading the way and carrying the base. I like how Ben looks like he doesn’t have a body and his head is growing out of the sculpture!  

Once we arrived at the site there was a lot of discussion about the even distribution of weight and how to make the piece structurally sound to face the Colorado crazy weather.  

Supporting and stabilizing the art.

  

The guys set it up on the sidewalk to decide angle, support, etc. and then drove a metal rod through the center to attach the avocado to the base. It’s also supported by 2 metal rods and  a foam wedge in the back. The DU PR group was there to take photos and you can see their story at http://blogs.du.edu/today/news/student-installs-giant-avocado-on-campus. We dropped it into the fountain and walked it over to the display site before attaching weights onto the bottom. It all took about an hour and I think it looks pretty good.  

The concept of this Capstone (Thesis) project is to observe the proper placement of a public art sculpture and the change to the environment around it. If you have any feedback please post a comment. I won’t use your actual comments in the research paper but can use the ideas anecdotally to describe overall impressions.  

My advice to anyone who wants to try a project like this:  

1. When choosing to sculpt with a hot wire tool in the garage, plan for cooler weather – not the 90s like I did. 2. Design your piece to the size specifications of the vehicle you plan to transport it in. 3. Get a pair of Crocs or Crocs knockoffs (trust me on this). 4. Don’t hesitate to use your Dyson vacuum in the garage. 5. Tip the trash man the day they take away 20 bags of excess Polystyrene. 6. Like planning anything, take your cost estimate and double it!  

Oh, one last note; my son Ben just graduated with an Architectural Engineering degree from CU and is looking for a position as a lighting engineer. Send any leads my way! Terrie  

The art installation crew.

  

Avocado D-Day!

July 1, 2010

Avocado waiting in my garage.

 

We’re scheduled to pick up a Uhaul van this morning to transport the sculpture – phew! I really can’t wait until it’s safely in place and I can come home and take a nap! Ben, my son the engineer, is coming over so we can figure out how to attach the piece to the pedestal that will be structurally sound, not come apart, not tip over, etc. My husband and I have come up with a ton of ideas but think it’s time to see what 5 years of CU engineering education can do for the situation.

Yesterday I drilled through the base to insert the rods that attach to the weights with rope. Wayne gave me the drill and the bits and then left the house where he would be safe. Don’t know why he’s so uncomfortable about me handling power tools – haven’t landed in the hospital yet.

My next, and possibly final post will be tomorrow with pictures of everything in place looking fabulous. Check back then to see how it all turns out. Cheers! Terrie

Avocado – Taking Shape!

June 27, 2010

Finished shape resting upside down in my garage.

 

Wow! It took 5 days at around 8 hours a day to sculpt a believable avocado shape. I didn’t realize how slow the hot wire tool could go. You just can’t rush it I guess. Professional artists cut away the excess with a chain saw sometimes but I didn’t feel very comfortable with that technique. As I was standing there gliding the loop tool through the material I was thinking of all those Pinewood Derby cars my son and I worked on when my husband was away on business. Thank goodness for the Crocs knock-offs I bought at Walgreens for $8, it saved my feet from wearout – lot’s of standing and sculpting. At times the Polystyrene reminded me of those travel videos of Alaskan cruises because it looked like a bunch of ice and glaciers. Other times I felt like I was frosting a really big wedding cake.  

Still removing the negative space.

 

I was surprised at the texture. I guess I thought I’d be able to make the surface smooth but, I think that only happens when you use the hot knife, not the router. In my research I noticed artists use files and sand paper to make things smooth and then even coat with a thin layer of cement. Yikes! After spending all this time just to get the shape right I decided the irregularities of the texture equal beauty and – done!  

Starting to paint the avocado skin.

 

I put the first coat of black paint on the outside. The material tends to separate a bit to expose some white areas so I’ll try 2 or 3 coats. I’m using good, old-fashioned exterior house paint because it’s waterproof, heat-resistant, and water based. Anything oil based will melt the Polystyrene, as I found out when I did my color tests. Only 3 more days before my target date of July 1 so not sure if I’ll make it. Check back on Tuesday or Wednesday and hopefully you’ll see the piece painted and ready to go.