Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mud Mural part 4

Work is continuing on our mud mural. Today Kat and Pat (shown above) used some leftover mud to patch some of the thinner sections of our wall from Saturday's event. We also sifted some more clay in preparation for the next step. In the coming days we will put a smoother coat over the whole thing, then add the 3D design and color elements. Either stop by the Boatworks or this blog to keep up with our progress.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mud Mural part 3

Today a crowd gathered on the grounds of the Boatworks to continue work on this year's community art project, a cob mural. People came and went all day, with more than 40 volunteers of all ages getting involved in some aspect of the process.

The first step today was to fill in the remaining spaces in the bamboo wall constructed last Saturday. This was done with more straw, woven and tied in place, so that there would be a surface to hold the mud mixture.

While some were continuing to weave the wall, others were helping to prepare the cob mixture. Clay that had been dug from the ground had to be sifted to remove rocks and other debris, a task that our volunteers took turns doing.

The next step for the wall was to make a straw and mud mixture. Straw was piled into a wheelbarrow, and mud added to it. A little bit of clay and water were mixed in to bring it to the right consistency.

As happened last week, some people chose to mix it another way- with their feet. Stirring with hands and stomping and dancing on the mixture is a good way to incorporate the straw into the cob mix.

The straw now thoroughly coated with mud, our crew started adding it to the wall, starting at the bottom and working their way up.

Gradually, the muddy straw mix began to cover the whole wall.

By early afternoon we had other people contributing to the success of the event. Musical entertainment was provided by Black Cat Luck, made up of brothers Matt and Chris Dubrow and friend Matt Curran. They provided a mix of rock, blues, country, and folk music for us to enjoy through the end of the day.

Meanwhile, the BAC provided food for all those in attendance. Hot dogs and hamburgers were cooked on the grills, and distributed to everyone, in addition to plenty of sliced watermelon, chips, and cold water.

After everyone was fed, hard work on the wall resumed. The muddy straw layer finished, project leader Kat Heitman and others started adding a layer of clay to the wall.

By 3:00 in the afternoon, the wall was completely covered with clay, with just an indication of the rough texture of the straw underneath. Our crew would have been ready to continue, but Kat let us know that it would be better to let this stage of the wall dry before continuing on to the last step, a smoother final layer with a multicolored mud relief design. Below is a photo of the state of the wall at the end of the day's work.

Ideally we'd prefer to let this dry in the sun, but with some predictions of area rainstorms we felt it safer to keep it under the protective canopy for a few days. In the near future we'll bring together another group of volunteers and finish our cob wall. We will post photos of the results here and it will remain on public view until the earth reclaims it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mud Mural part 2

Since Saturday there's been a little change to our bamboo wall. Kat came by a few days ago with some help and trimmed the long branches and leaves away from the sides and top, leaving the edges clean as in the original plan.

The big event is this coming Saturday June 25th, when this structure gets covered with the cob mixture and a surface design created. The bulk of the work will be done between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm, though there will likely be some prep work before and clean up after. Any interested volunteers are welcome to drop by any time during those hours to lend a hand. More details can be seen here.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mud Mural part 1

Around these parts, this time of year, seeing a bamboo construction might lead a person to think about waterfront tiki bars and other summer delights. On the grounds of the Boatworks in Belmar, it's a sign that we have begun this summer's community art project, a cob wall mud mural. Area artist Kat Heitman is leading the Belmar Arts Council and any interested volunteers and participants in using a very ancient building technique to create a contemporary artwork. It's a pretty big project, to be spread out over two weeks. Today we started the first part, building the basic structure of the wall.

The construction technique (which has been used for thousands of years) is sometimes called wattle and daub, combining upright wooden branches interwoven with flexible twigs, and then covered with a mud mixture. For our project, Kat decided to use locally grown bamboo as the wall's framework, with the slender shoots and leaves as the weaving material, as seen in the photos above and below.

Such walls are often built on foundations made from gathered stones. Here we substituted some cast concrete sculptures, broken remains from a previous community art project from several years ago. Our crew arranged these pieces at the base of the wall, both front and back.

Although the bulk of the surfacing will be done next week, securing this foundation called for us to make our first batch of cob, a mix of clay, sand, straw, and water. Buckets of sand and dirt high in clay were soaked with water, then dumped onto a tarp for mixing.

Using hands and feet, our volunteers worked the clay and sand mixture, bringing it to the proper consistency.

Next, straw was added. The sticky mud and tough straw combine to make a very strong building material.

Above, Kat does the "cob dance" on the mixture, further incorporating the straw and mud components of the cob. Below, the resulting mix is rolled in the tarp to complete the process.

With the cob ready to go, our volunteers lined up and passed balls of cob hand to hand from the mixing area to the bamboo wall.

The mud was packed on and around the concrete pieces, to create a kind of cement to hold the pieces together. When it dries, the result will be a strong foundation that will help support the mud coated wall above it.

By a little past noon, our crew had completed the day's work, and the resulting structure can be seen in the photo below.

A lot of great work was done today, but much more remains. Next Saturday, June 25, 2011, the whole wall will be coated with more of the cob mixture, and a mural created on the surface of the wall. The event will happen, rain or shine (we can put a tent canopy over the wall if we have to), beginning around 11:00 am and going until around 5:00 pm. Hot dogs and watermelon will be available from 1 to 3 pm, and we'll have live music through much of the afternoon. Kids are welcome to participate at any time, but the best time for younger children (ages 3 to 7) would be to drop by between 2 and 4 pm. Expect to get dirty, so wear some clothes suitable for mud. Come early, late, or anywhere in between, and be a part of this exciting project.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Power of Color Reception

Today was the opening reception for the new Power of Color exhibition at the Boatworks. The cupcakes alone would have fulfilled the promise of the title, but it was backed up with more than 40 color photographs hung in both the front and back rooms of our building.

Despite the many possible attractions in the area this time of year and the wet weather, we had a considerable crowd show up, well over 50 in attendance during the first hour alone.

The show's jurors awarded a total of 7 prizes, a best in show and six honorable mentions. The top prize went to the photo shown below- Sunflower by Michael Callahan.

The six honorable mentions went to the following artists-

Kathy Watson
Joan Myers
Wendy Ritch
Andrew Kazmierski
Jill Saari
Susan Guadagnino

The Power of Color photography exhibition will remain on display during regular gallery hours through July 8, 2011. Admission is free.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mud Mural Coming Soon

Are you ready for some messy artistic fun? It's coming to the Belmar Arts Council in just a few weeks. Cob construction artist Kat Heitman has come up with a fun, environmentally friendly community art project, and everyone is invited to be part of the process. A few weeks ago, some volunteers cleared a patch on the edge of our parking area at the Boatworks. Recent visitors may have noticed the white posts (see below) that are placeholders for what is coming.

On this site Kat will lead a group of volunteers in building a freestanding wall using natural materials- heavier bamboo posts with thinner bamboo shoots woven around and through them. Then on the big day, people are invited to come by and help us make a lot of mud, or cob to be exact- a mixture of clay, sand, straw, and water. Cob is an ancient building material that can be molded by hand into all sorts of objects and structures, and when dry is durable and nearly as hard as concrete. We are going to use it to help construct our wall, and then use different colors of mud to create the design of our mud mural. Once it has dried, we will be documenting how the elements gradually help the earth reclaim it.

Volunteers are needed to help with the site preparation (the bamboo wall) on Saturday, June 18th, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Then the mural itself will be created on Saturday, June 25th, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. We need people to use hands and feet to mix the mud on tarps, and then to help us get it on the wall. Fun for all ages, but bring your messy clothes, and expect to get dirty. Come for a little while or stay all day. We also need volunteers for set up and clean up, and to help us grill hot dogs and serve watermelon and drinks to our participants. Local musician Matt Dubrow will be providing entertainment from 2:00 pm on, and people are invited to bring instruments and jam along. For more information or to learn how you can help, contact the Belmar Arts Council.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

June Member Meeting

Tonight was the monthly member meeting for the Belmar Arts Council. They are currently being held the first Thursday of every month at the Boatworks. Part of each meeting is various BAC business. For example, tonight we talked about two upcoming shows- The Power of Color Photography exhibition (intake on June 3rd and 4th) and Art on the Edge (to feature low brow and other alternative art) coming up in late August. We also learned a bit more about this summer's community art project, a free standing colorful mud mural that will be going up later this month. There were reminders about this month's movie night (Tzameti, on June 21st at 7 pm) and our many ongoing groups.

At many of our meetings we like to have an arts related presentation, things that may be of interest to our members. Over the years these have included such diverse topics as still life painting and drawing, casting with concrete, digital processes, music performances and the reading of an original play. Tonight our demonstration came from Joe Villa, who discussed proper techniques for framing art for exhibitions.

Joe brought a few examples of framed work, some of which he took apart so that the crowd could see the various steps that went into it. He described some of the procedures that he uses, showed tools and specialized equipment, and discussed some of his preferred materials and where they can be purchased.

The monthly member meeting is open to all, including non-members who are interested in finding out what the BAC is all about. Dates and times of the meetings can be found on the calendar of events on our main website.