Some details on encaustic painting, poured metal, and the Ground Ball bike rack public art commission, installed at First Tennessee Park—home of the Nashville Sounds triple-A baseball team—in Spring, 2017. Special thanks to Metro Nashville Arts Commission for their continued support of working artists in middle Tennessee.
winning proposal 2015
bike rack design for First Tennessee Park in downtown Nashville
At the request of Metro Nashville Arts Commission public art program and in compliance with national bicycle parking standards, i submit this proposal for an artist-designed bike rack for the new Nashville Sounds stadium at First Tennessee park, opened in 2015. Utmost consideration was given to the functionality and ease-of-use of the bike rack. The design was driven by the need for efficient use of limited urban space and the safety of the bicycles when parked in this urban setting.
The design motif is context-sensitive. I chose the new stadium for the richness of imagery associated with Nashville Sounds baseball. This design offered the chance to express the Nashville triple-a baseball tradition in a simple visual form while adhering to Nashville’s present-day visual conversation. My design solution incorporates movement, whimsy, and the universal appeal of baseball for people of diverse ages, languages, and backgrounds. Because of the potential for large crowds, I also wanted the design to appeal to the non-cycling visitors to the ballpark as engaging public art.
Encaustic medium consists of beeswax and damar resin that are heated until blended, poured into cakes, and hardened. The mixture is then combined with pigment. I mainly use pharmaceutical-grade beeswax and beeswax from beekeepers, which is darker in color and contains more impurities—like insects and organic material—which I sometimes filter out. Encaustic paint requires a rigid surface. Wood supports make excellent, stable panels. Each painted layer is fused to the layer underneath with heat. Temperature control is crucial, as there can be up to fifteen layers of paint that have been fused and scraped. In order to keep the paint molten while working, the palette is heated to about 250 degrees. Surfaces are built up and demolished, melted and hardened.
Discovering the ancient art of encaustic painting has expanded my artistic practice to include sculpture, intaglio, drawing, and photographic techniques into my painting process. I owe a debt to Jasper Johns, who re-introduced encaustic painting to artists in New York City in the 1960's.
The word ‘encaustic’ comes from the Greek word enkaiein, meaning to burn in, referring to the process of fusing the paint. Encaustic painting was practiced by Greek artists as far back as the 5th century B.C.
The main ingredient in the poured metal artworks is pewter. I use lead-free pewter, which has a melting point of 450 degrees. A mold is made with clay-based red sand. I sometimes add appropriated material and/or wire to the composition. When the metal is heated to molten, it is poured into the mold, cooled, scrubbed, oxidized, and sealed.
Incorporating metal into the surfaces of encaustic painting is another way I use poured metal in my work.