February 10, 2008

Developments in The B-17 Sculpture Project

I'm excited by
some interesting developments in the B-17 Sculpture proposal, "Initial Point, " I've been developing conceptually over the last year or so.

It has a possible site at the UW School of Art, here at the sculpture courtyard of the Art (right) building on the main campus in Seattle. The courtyard is designed as a sculpture court, but is notoriously underused. It's just a request for a proposal and budget, but there has been a good reaction so far, and I'm optimistic about really putting this project together.

The initial proposal is to mount a large section of the model bomber formation from an open, tent-pole like tower structure that follows the lines of a six-part vaulted cathedral ceiling hanging over the courtyard, three stories up. Part of the appeal is to activate the courtyard space and revitalize interest in it's future possibilities.

There is much to do. It's in very early discussions and design ideas, but it is to the point where I need to begin to create a formal proposal, drawings, budgeting and models. I want to introduce the new site-specific concept here because I would very much welcome development ideas from the Isengard.Gov crew.

The following is from a bit of the correspondence:

I wanted to send along my sense from our conversation of the next steps for design, organization, and budgeting in order to create a formal proposal. Please add to these as you think fit:

Proposal Components

a) Drawings: Concept design, formal design, site design, examples of specific elements, structural and architectural design ideas.
b) Sources of Additional Expertise: Engineering, Historical accuracy, Metal casting, welding, cable rigging and woodwork
c) Selected Materials, Manufacturing and assembly methods.
d) Funding: Identifying and contacting possible sources, internal and external to UW.
e) Budgeting.

I'm also gathering ideas for Funding, Research, and Materials:

Boeing Company - Funds, Engineering support, donation of materials, publicity
Boeing Museum of Flight - Archival research, exhibition engineering
UW Public Art Program - Funding (?)
UW School of Art - Site, Supporting Workshops and Material-working expertise.

Sources for Volunteers, Expertise, Research, Construction, Fundraising Contacts

Email Contact List - Interested Artists, Funders, Organizations and Individuals. (I have about a dozen already.)
UW School of Art
UW Facilities
UW School of Engineering
Seattle Art Museum
Cascade Warbirds (WWII aircraft veterans and operators)
City of Seattle
Various Seattle and Aviation Historical Organizations

First on my priority list is beginning larger drawings and scale models to sort out design elements based on the use of the courtyard, and to make contacts for feedback and direct expert and possible fundraising support. The design will doubtless evolve based on available budgets, safety and building use limits, etc.

I can add to this that I am looking for information on metals, simple tower construction, computer design, anything that can contribute to sorting out a fairly complex design idea and simplifying both the form and construction.

An addition to the idea here, based on the site, is the construction of a small, spherical brick building in the courtyard, (evocative, I think, for many reasons) of a bomb shelter, an exposed medieval sub-basement, and a brick oven. Walking by it you would hear a slight hum. Going inside, you would hear the full-throated roar of four thousand radial engines, either wind driven or an out and out recording.

Other elements I'm considering adding are a reflecting pool, three caryatids in a central column support for the tower vault frame, full-size (even full color) women from the nose art of the bombers, tripled, backs to each other, but in attitudes of search and mourning. (Tacky? Strange? Heck, yeah.) An even more dramatic element would be sections of a full size B-17, (nose, wing tips, tail), made in resin-coated styrofoam and pasted on the building so that it appears to be flying through it and emerging, but in an attitude towards a crash in the courtyard.

I consider everything. Too much is never enough.


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