"I am fascinated by sequence and pattern, the structures that make meaning possible; I am curious about where meaning comes from, and suspicious of what we ignore in our desperate need to comprehend the significance of objects and experiences."

So says Jim Cogswell in his artist's profile for RIVER TATTOO.  His 8' x 86' vinyl mural is all about pattern and negative space.  Shapes and lines intermingle, morph, collapse and soar within the 16 individual panels and as a whole.  The nuts and bolts of translating Jim's mural from his head to the windows involves computers, graphic programs, a willing and creative printing shop, and worker bees like Katie and myself.

For each window panel the vinyl comes in multiple pieces cut by a computer and pieced, sometimes by hand, onto a sticky backing paper.  A layer of semi-transparent paper is put on top so that the vinyl is sandwiched between the two papers.  The vinyl has one smooth side and one side with strong adhesive.  To apply to a clean window, we tape the vinyl, sandwiched between the two papers, to the window in it's appropriate place.  The paper is lifted up and the bottom sheet is peeled away leaving the sticky side of the vinyl exposed.  We spay a thin layer of water on the window and carefully lay the vinyl down using a small rubber squeegee to press the vinyl into place and to press out as much water as possible.  The vinyl is left for an hour or two to allow any remaining water to evaporate and then the top layer of paper is peeled away revealing the adhered vinyl.  Some sheets are big and it takes two people working together to put them up, others are easy for one person to handle.

Jim placing sheets of vinyl while others are drying.

Bottom layer of paper being peeled away.

Peeling the top layer of paper to reveal the applied vinyl.


River Tattoo

Hello from Grand Rapids Michigan!  I'm here helping my brother-in-law, Jim Cogswell, install a BIG vinyl mural entitled RIVER TATTOO at the Eberhard Center on the downtown campus of Grand Valley State University (GVSU).  It is lovely here.  The Eberhard Center is facing the Grand River that flows thru the middle of Grand Rapids.  There is a wide inviting blue pedestrian bridge that crosses the river right next to where we are installing the mural.  Foot traffic on the bridge is constant so the mural will be seen by lots of people.  RIVER TATTOO  is hosted by GVSU Art Gallery under the direction of Henry Matthews and will be included in 2014 Art Prize.  The mural consists of 16 windows with a total measurement of 8 feet high by 86 feet long.  GVSU has provided us with a very capable and fun loving student assistant, Kate Pershon.  Best of all, Kate is 6' 1" and that is a boon when working with 5 foot tall strips of vinyl!

Today is day 4 of installation.  We have completed 4 of the 16 windows and have 4 others well underway.  Each window represents a multi step process.  The vinyl can be applied inside or outside, but because these windows are tinted we are applying it outside.  We started day 1 by washing the windows then wiping them down with a solvent to remove any remaining oils and finally a wipe down with denatured alcohol to remove remnants of the solvent.  Katie was also in charge of marking the middle of each window horizontally and vertically on the inside so Jim could site the placement of vinyl sections.  After this prep we were ready to start applying vinyl.    More on that process tomorrow....................

the blue pedestrian bridge

Katie washing windows

windows 1 thru 3 finished

windows 1 thru 8 in progress


gone fishing! back in September..............

Today I finished up a commission of two paintings to go with a paining from an earlier post.   Once I ship them off to New Mexico tomorrow I'm closing shop for the summer.  I have several trips planned including 2 weeks in Grand rapids helping my brother-in-law, Jim Cogswell, with a BIG adhesive vinyl installation entitled River Tattoo.  I'll let you know how that turns out.  For now, here are the 3 paintings that are headed out west.  Giddy up!