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Artist to Create Grand Mural on a Grand Scale for ArtPrize

Posted August 19, 2010 in ArtPrizeArtPrize

Work has already begun on the installation of Chicago artist Jeff Zimmermann‚??s ArtPrize 2010 selection. A muralist, Zimmerman is creating a 7-story tall, 94‚?? x 90‚?? mural that will fill the entire outside wall on Kendall‚??s north side.

Zimmermann has completed a number of these ‚??uber‚?Ě murals in other cities and has achieved national and international recognition for his painted images of contemporary pop culture and sensitively rendered portraits. His Grand Rapids work is likely to be the largest entry in the city‚??s second annual ArtPrize competition.

Besides their size, Zimmermann‚??s murals are unique in several ways. Each one includes citizens from the community. Every day, Zimmermann has walked the sidewalks of Grand Rapids with his camera, asking permission to photograph other pedestrians as he goes. Selections from his photo collection find their way to a spot in his mural, helping to illustrate his story of the city titled ‚??You Are Here.‚?Ě

Before Zimmermann could begin painting, the seven-story-tall north-facing exterior wall that serves as his canvas had to be cleaned, loose brickwork was repaired, and 40 gallons of primer were applied.

To create the large-scale work, Zimmermann creates cartoons, a mosaic of preliminary sketches the same size as the finished work. To create his cartoons, Zimmermann and his assistants are working at a studio on Commerce Avenue, projecting the images onto large sheets of kraft paper, and outlining each. He then uses a serrated tracing wheel to perforate holes along the sketch lines. Then, it‚??s up on the scaffolding with the sheets of paper, which are secured in place. Zimmermann then uses a charcoal-filled pounce bag to transfer the pattern to the wall. Once the pattern is in place, the paper comes away and Zimmermann begins painting. ‚??With the exception of an electric projector, this method is the same method that Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo, used to create their magnificent frescos,‚?Ě says Zimmermann.

Zimmermann enjoys an audience and hopes each day brings people into the parking lot at the foot of his mural. He hopes they ponder over the images he paints and that they‚??ll discuss their meaning together. Before too long, this mural will be joined by the work of seven other ArtPrize artists who will be displaying their work inside the building.

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