Go Bike! Community Art Project

If you're in Richmond, you know the city is a whirlwind of preparations. The 2015 UCI Road World Championships are coming in September and there is much to do! One project we're excited about is the ie* Go Bike! community art project. This project consists of 30 collobarations between local artists and identical sculptural castings. The sculpture itself was designed by VCU student John Sampson to reflect the city of Richmond and the international bike race. Johannah was thrilled to be selected as one of the artists for this project.

First step to ready the sculpture for paint and mosaic was to clean it. Next we sprayed it down with an aluminum sealer. Once that was complete, I could start playing with lines and color for the design.

A string of events inspired the design for this piece. Last summer, I created a series of mosaic maps of the Richmond area. Soon after, I was excited to learn of a research project created by Housing Opportunity Made Equal (HOME) called Mapping RVA: Where You Live Makes All the Difference. The maps used in this project reflected many of my thoughts about Richmond while working on my own maps. When the proposal for the bike rack project came through not too much later, I immediately knew the HOME maps would be the foundation for my project. (See the top right corner of this photo.) One side of the bike rack is based on the Educational Opportunity map, while the other is based on the Housing Opportunity map.

There were so many new challenges with this project. From finding an exterior-grade adhesive for bonding non-porous glass and aluminum, to the visual and physical logistics of combining paint, glass, and grout, to painting letters. I have a much deeper respect for sign painters these days!

Though I would have loved to cover the entire piece in mosaic, time was short for mosaic. I think the final combination of paint and glass turned out to be one of those happy accidents in art. Still, it was a challenge to my self-confidence to put a painted work (not my primary medium!) out into the world. 

By September, the bike racks will be installed separately around the city. But first they're being exhibited all together at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for three weeks. On the day of the opening reception for the exhibit, I awoke to the surprise of finding myself on the front page of the local paper! I expected this story to be buried deep in the arts section. This was just the first indication of how excited the city is about the bike racks. I think the community spirit and group effort have a lot to do with the great reception. One of the many reasons I'm honored to be a part of this project.

I have to say, I'm pretty excited to have my art work in the same space as not only 29 other great local artists but also world-reknowned artists like Jun Kaneko (middle photo) and Dale Chihuly (right photo). The show comes down next Monday, July 6. Stop by the VMFA sculpture garden this weekend for one last chance to see these beautiful works of art togethe in one spot!

RVA Mosaic Map Prints

It's been a long time coming, but they are finally here! Last summer Johannah created a series of mosaic maps based on images of the Richmond, VA area. We wanted to have them made into art prints, but this was something entirely new to us. So we took our time and did our research, and we couldn't be happier with the results!

The series includes three images: "Now Entering Richmond," "James River in Richmond," and "Historic Downtown." Each one zooms in a little closer on the city of Richmond, the James River, and the roadways and built environment of the city.

The 8"x10" matte prints were created locally from high resolution digital images of the original mosaic maps on 100 lb. paper. Huge thanks to Uptown Color for guiding us through the process! The prints are available individually and as a set in our Etsy shop, and of course we'll have them with us at craft fairs! Two of the three originals are also available.

Speaking of craft fairs, we've added a last minute addition to our spring show schedule this weekend. Come on out and see the prints in person on opening day for The Carytown Market! This Sunday, May 3 from 11 to 3 in the Wells Fargo parking lot at 3201 W. Cary St. Find something great for your mom in Carytown (maybe a Richmond map print??), plus great food from small scale local producers, local bands, and us, your local artisans, in the new Artisan Booth.

Zoom: A working title for a work-in-progress

Johannah took a short creativity break from the production work of coat racks and pendants to create a series of images of our home base, Richmond, VA.

I've always loved maps. As a kid, I covered the walls of my room with poster-sized National Geographic maps. Today I love to discover hidden spots on maps to explore in real life, and track long trips with our kids. Maps offer a wide variety of information, and sometimes, a new way to look at the world around us.

Here are a few shots of the process so far in creating my new series of maps.

The first piece in the series is a roadmap of the metropolitan Richmond region. I wanted to create a look somewhere between the Google map we know today, and a classic road map. The four tiles on the right are background color options. The top three are glass. I ended up going with the unglazed porcelain at the bottom.

The second piece moves in a bit on the city of Richmond, focussing on the river and human development of the area. This image is based on a satellite image of the region. The river, downtown islands, and densest areas of development are completed here.

The third and final piece is an aerial view of the heart of downtown Richmond. This is a map of historic transportation routes in the city: interstate (completed here), railroad, street roads, and water.

The completed series (and my trusty tea mug) awaiting grout and frames.