On Friday May 4th I premiered a new art installation at the 2018 Santa Fe Springs Art Festival. “The Seaside Fleet” is 1000 hand folded paper boats, half on patterned blue and half on patterned orange paper, plus one larger white folded boat and 3 intermediate sized white folded boats each made from buckram.
The gallery space was a converted mansion, and I like the way these boats interacted in the casual “homey” setting. The many rooms also provided different kinds of spaces for my pieces to ‘invade’. The Clarke Estate was built in 1919 and renovated multiple times, leaving many odd nooks and cul-de-sacs to use. The festival covered the estate grounds so I was able to install a portion of my pieces outside too.
The curator had intended for the fleet to be displayed entirely outdoors. While that would have been possible, it would not have been ideal. As a compromise, the main hub of “The Seaside Fleet” had to share one of the smaller salon-style spaces with a crowded selection of mostly student artworks. My installations are intended to be very adaptable though, and going with the flow wasn’t hard to manage.
The eight hour program was well attended, with heavy traffic all evening. I enjoyed many conversations with a vast array of curious art aficionados, including a few of my fellow artists, the town’s Mayor, and even Ms. Santa Fe Springs. Kids responded very positively and would drag their parents into the room when they found the ‘mother boat’. The preparator and curator both told me they were barraged with questions about them throughout the day, and I eavesdropped on one conversation where a couple convinced themselves that it wasn’t an art project, but that the city had hired someone just to add these boat-things to the show–which in a sense was partially right.
When not speaking to collectors and visitors, I roamed the grounds replenishing boats and finding new places to post them. Because the boats can look like unplanned ephemera, more than a few of them were moved, or taken as souvenirs over the course of the night. I plan for this, and I made extra to replace particular pieces that were important as guiding anchors for the free flowing composition. In the end, I came home with about 600-800 of the original thousand.
Large community driven events are a lot of fun, but they are also exhausting. While I’d originally planned to do some DRP observation and field testing as part of the show, by the time the event started I knew I wasn’t going to have the energy or focus needed.
“The Seaside Fleet” wasn’t purchased, but the show was still successful as far as response and viewership. By special arrangement with the organizers a portion of the elements of my piece, several dozen of the smallest boats, were kept as part of the Clarke Estate’s permanent collection.