This is my latest installation with the bank Vancity. Vancity is a very progressive financial institution who believes in featuring artists as part of their community. I had applied NINE times for various projects with the bank and turned down for 8 of them. I called my Mom after the 8th turn down and said “Oh Man, I got turned down again and for the last time” as I was convinced this wasn’t the right thing for me to be going after. She said “well dear, if you don’t keep applying you wont get it for sure”., I was thinking of what to do for the next one that would really up my game. I passed a revolving billboard and thought that was pretty cool. The shapes and colours that secretly appeared as the image was rotating was a flashpoint. I had also recently had to cut a large painting down to fit into a clients bay window, the scrap of that painting was framed up for me by my canvas guy and hung in my studio. I thought if I could fuse my billboard idea and my framed canvas together I might have something. The hardest thing for an artist who virtually communicates with paint, is actually writing down what I want to do with this project. I send in my proposal and I was short listed to three finalists. I spoke with my friend Tom about how I could make my presentation to the “aesthetics committee” so I could really nail my presentation. He told me to make a maquette of the mural. When I made my presentation, I pulled my model out of the box and everyone gasped. I knew then I had something, but when they asked to keep my model, I thought this looked promising. They called the next day and told me I had been awarded the project. Only thing was, I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone.
There were several production meetings as the piece was being done. All the paint was ordered and a 30 foot long canvas was delivered. I had to work very closely with Stan, my canvas guy, as we figured out how on earth I was going to make this. He gave me a stencil that I could draw the whole thing out on and even a spacer so it was even. Production began in the amenities space of my building, 17 tables were spread out and I suddenly looked a this colossal project and thought, “I have really got my work cut out for me”. 30 gallons of paint were spread out over this huge canvas. I couldn’t believe how heavy the canvas had become. A week later, the bank people came to see it. What I had done was the basics; the sky, the mountains, the ocean, beach and green grass. Still spaced out over a 30 foot canvas, they were less than thrilled. Within 24 hours, I had received 15 emails from them directing me with what they wanted to see in the piece. More sky, too much green, less ocean, more beach, too much of this and not enough of that. And everyone of them wanted to see people in the piece. I normally don’t even like showing anyone what I am painting. I knew this was part of the procedure, but I also knew I was only 1/3 done. Off the canvas went to be cut up and stretched onto 15 separate canvases each 6” x 72” x 3”. When it came back it had shape and I had something to work with. Now came the daunting task of adding the details to the piece. 75 cars , 60 houses, 100’s of trees were painted in, city scapes, bridges, parks, light houses, planes, ships and 40 sail boats, busses and 100 people were added even a soccer field with the Musquiam Native logo. Suddenly the painting had heart beats and for the first time, I had a painting with actually 3 dimensions. I wanted the viewer to see the painting as they came in to the bank as one direction, as they left in a second direction and when they stood in front of it as a third dimension. The next time the bank came to view the painting, they said nothing. I had all the heads nodding.
Only thing…I STILL couldn’t show anyone. Finally, installation day came and they had an engineering team doing the job for me. Thank god , Stan, my canvas guy, had numbered all the canvases for me. The installation went off without a hitch and I was suddenly very excited and yet rather sad. One one had the project I had spent four months on was being installed and looked prefect, but on the other hand I was loosing my painting I had worked so hard on. The VANCITY logo’d panel was installed and now they had a week to “approve or reject” the painting. I spoke at the bank the day of the opening to numerous staff and clients who came in for the opening of the new branch. Everyone seemed thrilled. Finally, the word came that they unanimously approved it. The project was complete and I could exhale. One of the biggest project of my career to date.