Monday, November 23, 2009

The Handling of Art

by Keith Conway

Moving the Shonibare “
Globe Children”, an art work that is hundreds of pounds and made up of a Giant Globe covered with global mapping, filled with buckshot, and topped with two child headless dancers, and then installing it 6feet 4inches on top of a flared pedestal, is one of reasons, why I wanted to work here in the first place.

What a challenge. There was an irony in us moving the art in position and the Victorian dressed children toying with the world atop the globe dancing to the tune of the technological changes and all I could think of was that this fork lift better be perfect. We had rehearsed the play but this was Showtime, Now it was time to set this piece on top of a perfect 6foot 4inch pedestal made and designed by cabinet shop master, Melvin Vega, the kind of guy who would never take credit for a piece of stunning work, and this is one.

Image taken by Jeremy Jelenfy

Well, here we were with a big heavy Globe filled with buckshot, that had a habit of shifting slightly during transport. After shifting the buckshot back to the center with the main shifting being done by Kevin Etherton, it was time to get the forklift right for transport & lifting. This meant making a giant pair of forklift shoes connected to a platform topped by a locking etha-foam cover. Etha-foam is kind of like Styrofoam, except it doesn’t break and it’s soft like the lining of a helmet, and you can carve it into shape.

A few years back I was enlightened to the use of a good forklift cover when Conservator Steve Mellor and were part of the group that installed African Art’s concrete Akanji screen sculptures in the Smithsonian Castle.

It was a great art handler lineup, Andy Sutton, Chi, Hen, & Craig from Bonsai and Dave & John, from J. McLaughlin Art. Anticipation filled the gallery and Don Llewellyn started the lift upward, Moving left, shifting right with precision. Then that magic feeling when everything felt perfect, (Checking once more to make sure no fingers were in the way), and “now”. Perfect, no adjustment. The globe was in. Once again we had gone into the magic zone where time speeds up and slows down at the same time, hours had passed in minutes, and the energy, to live for.

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