Category Archives: 1% for Art / Public Art Projects

1% for Art Project for Gladys Wood Elementary: Part I

Tomorrow is the May First Friday Art Walk, and normally we would have converted our studio into a pop-up gallery for the evening, and opened it to the public, but this month I’m working on a huge 1% for Art project for Gladys Wood Elementary that is taking up most of the space in the studio, so open studio events have to be postponed.  This is our second 1% for Art project.  The first one was in 2017 at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks.  Right about this time last year I was awarded the Gladys Wood Elementary project, and now I am finally putting oil paint on panels.

Signing the contract and receiving the first payment installment took about a month.  In the meantime I started working on design concepts for four large ellipse paintings for walls in two different hallways, themed Spring and Fall, and six circles for the ceilings in those hallways.  The committee of ten people approved the designs immediately, which was so much faster and easier than I expected.  Then we left the country for a month, but when we returned we started looking for contractors to help us install the panels securely, especially since six of them are going to be on the ceiling.  I decided to hire the same crew that remodeled the school, since they know the admin staff, and everything about those walls they built.  Luckily Cornerstone General Contractors agreed to work with me, even-though this project is small potatoes for them.  About a week after my conversation with the contractor, that 7.1 earthquake hit, and I didn’t hear back from those guys for about two months, which was totally understandable.  I didn’t really mind, because the holiday season was in full swing, and we were busy mailing orders, and selling art at craft fairs around town.  So finally, in January, I ordered all the panels from Hardware Specialties, a great wood store, and arranged with the property manager of the building where we lease our studio to get some extra working space.  Luckily, there’s a huge room downstairs that is vacant at the moment, with a garage door for easy unloading from the truck!  So we unloaded all the wood panels, and then Maria and I went to the school and made templates out of paper and tape of the four ellipses, so I could trace the templates onto the panels.  That took us two evenings.

Maria helping to make a template of the ellipse shape, with an opening for an outlet.

The next step was to trace and cut the panels, which I accomplished with a skilsaw and my trusty sander.  I finished that step right before we left on a two-week ski trip to Idaho and Utah.

All the panels cut for four ellipses, and six circles.

So now the contractors finally came into the picture.  We hired two strong guys to help us pre-install the panels.  I really wanted to make sure they would fit, before I started painting, and also, to figure out where all the screw holes would be, so I could try to camouflage them in the design.  The pre-install took two evenings.  Those guys were great to work with!

Next, I sanded the surface of the panels to remove any wood texture, and coated them with two coats of white primer.  Then we coated them with gold paint.  The gold shines through small gaps in the oil paint, making my paintings glow when light hits them at certain angles.  Before I could start painting the design with oils, I had to figure out where I could work on such large pieces.  One option was to lay them out on the floor, but I’ve worked on the floor before, and it’s painful after many hours of crouching.  So I modified my existing easel with 1x3s so it would hold an entire ellipse at once.  The whole set up barely fits in my studio!

At this point I have finished one ellipse for the Spring hallway, and am now working on the second one.  Progress is steady, and I’m expecting to finish on time and on budget.  The deadline is October 2019.

The first ellipse completed for the Spring hallway.

Work in progress on the second ellipse for the Spring hallway.

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Goodbye Summer, Hello Studio

Well, we got back from our cabin in McCarthy yesterday, and we don’t have any trips planned for the foreseeable future, so it’s time to get back to regular life and knuckle down in the studio.  Today I signed the contract for a big 1% for Art project at Gladys Wood Elementary in Anchorage, so now I can start working on the design.  I gathered some good reference material in McCarthy, where Fall arrived a couple weeks earlier than here in Anchorage.  We also picked about 13 pounds of lingonberries, and I’ll be making many jars of jam this week.  I’m looking forward to being grounded here in Anchorage for the winter, and working in the studio.  We’ll be hosting a First Friday in October for the first time since last April!  I hope you’ll stop by.  I’ll be baking my famous chocolate chip cookies for the event.

Here are photos from my proposal for the Gladys Wood Elementary 1% for Art project.  The requested theme was Southcentral Alaskan natural scenery.  The final paintings will be different, but this is the overall concept based on my existing oil paintings.  I’ll be creating four large elliptical paintings for the walls, and six circular ones for the ceiling.  They will be displayed in two different hallways.  One hallway is themed Spring, and the other Fall.  I have until October 2019 to complete this project.  I’ll post updates on Facebook and Instagram along the way.

Our First 1% for Art Project

~ by Maria Benner

We recently completed our first 1% for Art project.  What is 1% for Art?  Here’s a short summary of the law.  The State of Alaska and the Municipality of Anchorage recognize that it is the government’s responsibility to foster the development of culture and the arts through the purchase or commissioning of works of art for municipal buildings, schools or other municipal facilities. So 1% of capital expenditures for municipal buildings and facilities are devoted to the acquisition of works of art to be permanently placed or incorporated in such buildings or facilities.  When there is a need for art, the State, or Muni requests proposals from artists for specific locations.  Many artists apply for these opportunities, and the competition is pretty stiff.  Artists from outside Alaska can apply too, making competition even tougher.  We’ve been submitting proposals for a couple years, and our list of rejections was getting pretty long.  But finally, we submitted a proposal for bicycle racks at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks, and our project was accepted!  Then we had to submit a proposed budget, proof of insurance, a notarized and signed paper promising that we don’t have employees, so we’re not required to get Worker’s Comp insurance, and some other paperwork, before we were all set up to proceed with the fun part.

We recently had an epiphany that opened up many more opportunities in the public art realm.  We realized that we can hire fabricators to create installations, or sculptures that Scott designs.  Now we can propose pieces of art made from metal, glass, wood, anything!  Before, we were just responding to requests for murals, or paintings.  So Scott designed three bicycle racks that would be installed in front of the building.  They were shaped like a moose rack, a bear with a salmon in its mouth, and spruce trees.  We hired a local fabricator in Fairbanks, Warren from Alaska Ornamental Iron.  We chose him, because we had seen his work at a neighbor’s cabin in McCarthy, and his business seemed very professional.  When we called him, he said he could do the work, and promptly sent us a bid.

When Warren came to town on a work trip, he stopped by our studio, and we discussed the designs.  Scott made some tweaks, and sent them to Warren in various file formats.  Then Scott and I flew to Fairbanks to scout locations for the bike racks, and to meet with the school Principal, and maintenance manager.  We all discussed, and agreed upon the locations, and they approved the final designs.

Warren took several months to build the racks out of steel tubing.  He sent us pictures of his progress, and we forwarded them to our contact at the school, so they would know what was going on.  When the bike racks were complete, Scott flew to Fairbanks to help Warren and his team install them.  The installation took longer than expected, because such projects always do, so Scott didn’t have time to take photos for his portfolio before he had to catch his plane back to Anchorage.  So I flew to Fairbanks just for a couple hours a week later to make sure that the installation was completely done, and to take photos.  I rented a bicycle, so I could use it as a prop in the photos to demonstrate how the bike racks work.

I just sent off the final invoice to the school district.  There were three invoices.  One for 1/3 for materials, and another one a couple months later for Warren’s fees.  The final one is for travel expenses, and all other costs associated with the project.

In summary, I’m glad I did a lot of research about budgeting for public art projects, and read the book The Artist’s Guide to Public Art: How to Find and Win Commissions by Lynn Basa.  We read and heard about a lot of horror stories of artists going over budget and having to take out a second mortgage on their house, or getting in way over their head on a project that’s too big and complicated.  Luckily, we did everything right this time, got lucky with our fabricator, who ended up being very professional and created exactly what Scott designed.  We learned a lot about the process, and hopefully will have more opportunities like this in the future.

Bear with salmon in its mouth bicycle rack. 1% for Art at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks. Designed by Scott Clendaniel, fabricated by Alaska Ornamental Iron.

Bear with salmon in its mouth bicycle rack. 1% for Art at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks. Designed by Scott Clendaniel, fabricated by Alaska Ornamental Iron.

Moose rack bicycle rack. 1% for Art at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks. Designed by Scott Clendaniel, fabricated by Alaska Ornamental Iron.

Moose rack bicycle rack. 1% for Art at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks. Designed by Scott Clendaniel, fabricated by Alaska Ornamental Iron.

Spruce trees bicycle rack. 1% for Art at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks. Designed by Scott Clendaniel, fabricated by Alaska Ornamental Iron.

Spruce trees bicycle rack. 1% for Art at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks. Designed by Scott Clendaniel, fabricated by Alaska Ornamental Iron.