Much of my work incorporates letters, numbers, music symbols and math formulas. The Billboard Series consists of 21 mixed media works, each measuring 8" x 10". Each work is an abstract interpretation of how billboards were, and presently are constructed. During the now bygone era, billboard images were created from "dot" patterns silk-screened onto huge sheets of white paper, with a "bleed" edge (overlapping registration). These large sheets were then slap-pasted, using a gloppy wallpaper-type past, directly onto the metal panels that made up the billboard frame, using a 8-10" wide horse hair brush ( or push broom). From the highway, these "dots" fused into recognizable photo-real images, similar to Georges Seurat's Pointillism images. Up close, as you can see in each of my pieces, they appear as simple dot patterns. Periodically, the build up, weather and wind required the metal panels to be scraped clean as "a new slate", so to speak. These tatters were then thrown into dumpsters, where artists like myself would "dumpster dive" to retrieve these discarded tatters.
Today, computer-generated images are printed directly onto huge, weatherproof, "fabric "curtains" that can be as large as the entire face of an eight to ten story tall building. These curtains are then secured into place by using nylon ropes/ cords/cables. In my Billboard Series, the sporadic splotches of white paint, refer to the wallpaper paste, and the string represents the anchoring cables used in today's process.
I collected the tatters from two large dumpsters in 1979, (along with 5 additional trash bags full), and stored them for over 25 years, before sitting down in 2007, and editing them into what you see.
THE BILLBOARD SERIES
KINDER, GENTLER ROBOTS
Bay Area artist Jane Elliott read a poem by Richard Brautigan, “All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace,” and started to think about what machines of loving grace would look like. Clearly not the invincible terrors of dystopian fantasy, the robots began as drawings and evolved into 3-dimensional wall hangings. About the robots, Elliott says this:
“The inventive proliferation of the natural world and my penchant for Industrial design inspire this series of robots. I see an endless combination of beastlike and spare parts all mixed up, mechanized flora and fauna blended in a caricature of shining colors and black lines. Each machine has a distinct personality. They rattle and choke up and purr and snap. They grind to a halt and oscillate wildly —and now become an increasing presence in our lives. I mix this essence with my fascination with amoebae, diatoms, insects, Russian space stations, and mysterious sea creatures. My biomorphic-machine mash-ups say that 'life insists' and Nature always wins, I don't know if they are merely glorified household cleaning assistants, or if now they find their own reasons for being.
“The robots began as a series of sketches, and after many months of turning their shapes over in my head, needing to figure out how to build them, I realized they were flat - and then I was able to trace, trim, layer and paint the first one.
“I use an opaque projector to re-draw these mechanical beasties on light-weight plywood, then cut out the silhouettes using a scroll saw. Carapaces, tubes, claws, suction cups, satellite dishes, detectors, gauges, antennas, and sensors: the parts are painted with glossy enamel and glued together. Solid colors and black lines give the robots a super-flat cartoon look, even though the artwork is actually made of several layers. With wood, glue, paint, and a modicum of woodworking skills, the robots are now ready for action—whatever that might be.”