To finish out 2017, I had the opportunity to create another 3D public artwork. This time, I created “street signs” for a walkway / alleyway for the City of Chapel Hill, NC. Part of their “Alleyway Improvement Project”
(3D signage facing Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC)
The city was very specific in what they needed for that area: directions to and from the main street, through the alley and back to the “Wallace Parking Deck”. There were 5 places the signs would be positioned, each sign needed to direct foot traffic, “Parking Symbols” needed to be added and I had to address the origins of the area “Amber Alley”.
First, I as I do with all my artworks, I do the research…what was Amber Alley? I had been to Chapel HIll before and knew that there’s ties to UNC, so eventually I’d need to add something of the school to the sign. But, Amber Alley…hmmm? I didn’t know much about that. What I did find was very interesting:
Back in ’99 (that sound funny to me…) an artist (Michael Brown) created a full mural for the back of Amber Alley. There was a popular restaurant / bar called The Rathskeller or “The Rat” by locals that closed down after many years in Amber Alley. Mr. Brown, who created many other murals in Chapel Hill / Durham area.
It looks like he took the idea of a necklace with “amber stones” and placed imagery in each stone. Read more about his inspiration for the mural (as well as a walking tour of his other works) HERE.
Originally, Amber Alley got it’s name for the amber color of the electric lights that glowed “amber” to light the pedestrian walkway, and not from the precious stones.
(Amber Alley view from Franklin Street – lights)
I forget exactly where on the net I found that specific tidbit of information, but I had envisioned the old gas lamp era of the 19th century.
Next steps: My interest in old / out of print money has always fascinated me. I had researched out of circulation US currency and found a treasure trove of interesting images to work with. One in particular was the silver certificate from the Educational Series of 1896: “History Instructing Youth”.
From there, hours of digital collage / 3D work to get all the aspects included into each sign. A couple of changes as per Chapel Hill and now, the final products hang for all UNC / Franklin Street visitors to see, and yes…in 3D! (Just need to get those Chromadepth Glasses.)
These artworks are temporary and eventually they will make their way back to city hall, where they can be reassembled into ONE ARTWORK. Hopefully, if the interest is there, I’d like to do a larger work for them to install in Amber Alley.