Steamroller Steve and the Quarter Mile Print.

 

Steamroller Steve and the Quarter Mile Print. crew-on-sr3

Steve McKenzie and the Quarter Mile Print crew

 

The Quarter Mile Print: It’s a Family Affair took place in Newark, New Jersey on Saturday October 20, 2012.  Over two hunderd people gathered in Washington Park to participate in this printmaking extravaganza that was a highlight of Open Doors, sponsored by the Newark Arts Council.  The public and professional artists created monotypes along a plastic sheet, measuring a quarter of a mile.  The monotypes were printed onto paper with a steamroller.

 

test-prints

Inked plastic with corresponding monotype prints above

 

Monotype is the most direct printmaking technique.  Printing ink is applied to a plastic or other smooth, non-absorbent surface and printed onto paper, usually with a printing press. For the Quarter Mile Print, participants used high quality supplies–Akua water based printing inks and 800 sheets of Canson Edition paper, generously donated by the respective companies.

 

painting3

Quarter Mile Print Event

 

Steve McKenzie, artist, printmaker and manager of the Arts Workshop at the Newark Museum, organized the Quarter Mile Print. “I really wanted to do a project that the community of Newark could participate in and felt that doing a print that would be a quarter mile long would grab people’s attention and bring people together. I have been experimenting with non-traditional forms of printmaking all my life and the Quarter Mile project is only the latest iteration.” says Steve.

 

In the late ’70s he made his Wheel Marks series of large format prints by dipping his roller skate wheels into paint and skating across a canvas, creating linear patterns to the beat of electronic music before a live audience.  He says, “Roller skates were a prelude to steamrollers.”

 

first-steamroller

Steve printing with his first steamroller

 

One day in the mid-’80s, as Steve watched a paving crew put finishing touches to a road, “a light bulb went on.”  He realised that the steamroller could be used as a press to print large works. Soon after,  Steve bought his first steamroller for 600$.  The cherished vehicle has since disappeared (that’s another story) but he still has the receipt.

 

This was the start of the artist’s adventures with “roller printing”, as he calls it, which occurred before the current wave of steamroller print projects.  Every summer, for ten years, he went to Camp Rest-a-While in Salford, Pennsylvania, not to rest, but to create an oversize monotype.

 

68-eventpage-rausch_5001

¼ Mile or 2 Furlong Piece by Robert Rauchenburg

 

Steve refers to Robert Rauchenburg as his “Art Godfather,” and sites the artist as having influenced his unconventional approach to printmaking.  Rauchenburg’s ¼ Mile or 2 Furlong Piece as well as his Automobile Tire Print that he made with John Cage impressed Steve.  He wrote a letter to Rauchenburg:  “…(My) dream is to someday do a collaboration with you to make the longest print in the world.” Rauchenburg replied that due to his “overwhelming” commitments he would not be able to collaborate.  After asking for and looking at photos of Steve’s work, he responded, “Looks like you’re doing alright yourself. Thanks for showing me.  Good luck.  Bob.R.”

 

In 1999, Steve was part of the Printmaking Council of New Jersey’s effort that established the Guinness record for the biggest monotype–1000 square feet. He helped organize the project, that used his method of printing from Tyvek, the plastic insulating material used in home building.

 

prep-plastic

Preparing plastic sheeting at the Printmaking Center of New Jersey

 

This man had the experience, vision and drive to organize the Quarter Mile Print.  Since I volunteered to help on printing day I received email updates addressed to volunteer crew and witnessed the magnitude of coordinating this project.

 

ink3

Volunteer crew prepare ink at the Newark Museum

 

The volunteer crew had two hands-on tech days.  Susan Rostow, of Akua Inks in New York, showed the crew how to mix the ink with blending medium to obtain optimum viscosity and demoed how to work with the water-based ink.  The crew also had a practice printing session at D.L. Paving Contractors, in Belleville, New Jersey.

 

test-run

Test printing session in Belleville

 

From the first meeting to recruit volunteers in March 2012 at the Printmaking Center of New Jersey to the Big Day on October 20, Steve faced many challenges as he strived to cover “every last detail.”  Whether it was buying and preparing material, seeking sponsors, screen printing t-shirts for the crew and banners for the city, or drumming up publicity.

 

The biggest challenge was when the event was postponed for two weeks due to rain.  This resulted in losing a third of the crew, including myself, losing the original After Print Exhibition venue and last but not least losing the donated steamroller that was scheduled for a paving job on the new date.  Two days before the event, after relentless knocking on doors, Steve rented a beautiful DD-24 steamroller from DNI Equipment Rental, who waived the 150$ delivery charge and threw in an extra day.

 

nm-quarter-mile-print-0154

Quarter Mile Print Day in Washington Square

 

For Steve the highlight of the Quarter Mile Print was “seeing people busily creating their monotypes and realizing that the project had come to fruition.  One officer, a Mr. Aviles, even participated, drawing a cool picture of a squad car with a red light on top. It was neat!”  Steve McKenzie is a people person.  He thrives on taking art out of the studio and into the street where it becomes a communal process and a medium for interacting with the public.

 

monotype2

The artist's piece of the Quarter Mile Print

 

In May 2013, the public will be able to view some of the work created  during the Quarter Mile Print Event.  Two hundred monotypes will be exhibited at 1978 Arts Center in Maplewood, New Jersey.

 

parade

Steve rolls to the Creation Nation Art and Peace Parade

 

Steamroller Steve’s talents aren’t limited to printmaking.  No, he does not pave parking lots, although I would not put it past this man who used to operate tractors when making snow on ski hills during grad school.  On Sunday, the day after the Quarter Mile Print, Steve decorated the steamroller, slipped into appropriate parade apparel that included custom painted roller skates, and drove the DD-24 through downtown Newark traffic to the Creation Nation Art and Peace Parade, another Open Doors event.

 

Once on Broad Street, whenever the parade came to a halt, Steve jumped off the steamroller, did a mini roller skating routine and after a few twirls and swirls, hopped back on his “float”.  Then, he recounts, “I did the steamroller version of a donut, wasn’t much in the way of burning tires but it did provide some amusement for the local PD watching the parade.”

 

This time there was no paint under Steve’s skates but once again there was joy in his heart and smiles on spectator’s faces.  I’d say he managed to amuse and enrich quite a few people that weekend!

Talleen Hacikyan

 

A word  from Steve McKenzie:

thanks

 

Thank you Steve for the interview and photos.

 

 

0 Réponses à “Steamroller Steve and the Quarter Mile Print.”


  • Aucun commentaire

Laisser un Commentaire




les arts anciens d' Afrique |
La Maison Bleue à Dives sur... |
les bagues colorées de La P... |
Unblog.fr | Créer un blog | Annuaire | Signaler un abus | CIRCUS MUNDI
| Ffayce
| mon art, mon expression.......