Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Week In Pictures and It's Only Wednesday

What a roller coaster week as we near deadlines and budgets are suddenly strained as new costs come in that I know nothing about until I open an email or am handed an estimate. I've been so busy this week attending to 'the numbers' that I did no work on my own text interventions until mid-afternoon today. That made a gap of five days without any focus on my own project for this building.
But maybe, that was OK. We came up with a great new idea today and are now juggling numbers for five walls. What can we afford to do? How can we simplify? What can we drop? What can we add to? I had a really good meeting with the graphic designers I hired to make my text ideas real.
All the project artists are at work and all ten projects are looking really good. In fact, Aggie Eyster finished her etched metal panels and she delivered them today to the mill work folks in Katy, TX.
Her panels will be incorporated into a very grand reception desk for the main lobby. There will be nothing quite like this 'meet and greet' area. Her work is superb.
1002 Washington will be unique. The building itself will get people's attention and then the art will kick in. Each piece will invite response from the public. The art is all real. There isn't even a hint of faded posters pinned on the walls.
My only misgiving and it's a very small misgiving, is that there may be a lack of coherence because all the artists do such different work. But, we chose the artists specifically because each does do something different. Each artist offers another 'take' on this great, complicated and diverse city.
Then it's time to pause and say to myself, "This building is big and folks will see one work of art at a time. They can be surprised and even delighted that they are surprised." Enough.
I've decided that I will think of this building as one of those 1980s outdoor bayou art exhibitions when selected artists created very diverse art along Buffalo Bayou between Shepherd and Downtown Houston. I remember being energized by such variety. So, I will look at this five story building in the same way I looked at those bayou exhibitions. If the art is real, the building can hold it and all will work.

I suspect that the experience of this building will be unexpected, both for the folks who work in it and for the visitors who come for permits, licenses and green building ideas. I hope we have folks who come with no other agenda than to see the art and, by the way, visit the Green Building Resource Center. I hope there will be receptions in the public spaces so ever more people spend time in this unique public building.
But oh, what a time we're having this week. Costs we assumed were already covered are suddenly coming from my budget. My contingency has shrunk to nothing in just days. That is OK if nothing else becomes an issue. If I should ever be offered another job like this, I'll get a lot more in writing, right at the beginning. I'll know the questions to ask and then I'll know enough to ask them again and again and again. And involving a wider circle in the process. Nothing like adding 6-8 people to each email so everyone is in the loop. Always.
There are moments when the whole project seems overwhelming and then I take a deep breath and suddenly believe, again, that it's all going to work out. Life is a risk and that seems to be working out. So this will also. Maybe I am simply a tenacious optimist and don't give up on anything until it's finished. Successfully. I had my palms read a few months ago and my life purpose is, believe it or not, "To get the job done." Guess that means whatever job is at hand. No pun intended.
Today was a good day, once I'd risen from bed and emailed a dozen folks, made some calls and got on my way to meet Aggie at the mill work place in Katy. Ticked off all the stops, including Aerosol Warfare where I photographed Gonzo 24/7 at work, who was adding layer after layer of color to his two canvases. Can't wait to see them finished.
Last Sunday I visited Dan Havel who was clearing space in the studio he's sharing with Dean Ruck for this project. They've collected so much wonderful metal junk, cast-offs. I'd had saved this stuff too.
We talked about how art emerges from the materials and how we're always reshuffling and reorganizing, often despairing that it'll all come together and finally it does come together and it does work. That's where Dean and Dan are now. I have the sense that the final piece may not look like what's on their wall right now. And it will be wonderful and knock folk's socks off.
Also stopped by TSU to see Jesse Sifuentes' two murals. He's nearly finished, kept adding touch-ups while I photographed him. Says the magnolias are finished yet.
What I can say about the art that is being created for this building is that it will be a surprise to almost everyone. There is no other COH building that will contain such a mix of art by local artists. All but one artist live and work in Houston.
There are several more artists that I've haven't yet talked about. I'll do that next. It's late at night and tomorrow may be much like the first three days of this week - total immersion in this civic art endeavor.