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Chicago's Loop Jams to Color –Erik Cagle

September 2012
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The good folks of Chicago have been going about their business this summer with an added splash of color in their lives, thanks to the vision of a multimedia artist realized through a local Signs By Tomorrow franchise.

The artist, Jessica Stockholder, unleashed a wealth of colors for the intersection of Adams and State streets—in the heart of the Loop—including orange red, sky blue and leaf green. The result: Color Jam 2012, a 3-D multimedia endeavor that became Chicago's largest-ever public art installation. The installation will be on display through the end of this month; unfortunately, leaving Graph Expo attendees in early October out of the (color) loop, so to speak.

Having the honor of implementing more than 70,000 square feet of substrate, of which there were four different types, was Bloomingdale Signs By Tomorrow. This was hardly the firm's first major undertaking, having been in charge of sign and graphic projects including the Vancouver Olympics and numerous displays at professional football stadiums and convention centers. And, the company has wrapped more than its share of cars, vans and semi-trailers in brand imagery.

Bloomingdale Signs By Tomorrow answered the bell once more, needing just two weeks to handle enough colored vinyl to cover one-and-a-half football fields. Stockholder was more than pleased with the realization of her vision, which went "live" in early June.

"As the installers of this project, Bloomingdale Signs By Tomorrow was really enthusiastic the entire time," Stockholder notes. "To them, it was never just a job. They took some care to make this happen in a fantastic way."

Stockholder worked with the Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) to find a suitable location for the installation—which carried a $500,000 budget—and followed in the footsteps of previous public art productions from Kay Rosen and Tony Tasset. State and Adams was chosen because of the buildings' aesthetics (two are glass structures, one concrete and another stone). And, given its drab and dreary appearance, it was most in need of a temporary makeover.

Streets, sidewalks and buildings were among the elements adorned by Stockholder's shining substrates. The four vinyls used were a foil-backed adhesive for the streets and sidewalks; a perforated vinyl for glass surfaces; a third for wrapping around traffic lights; and the final a scrim to hang over various materials such as masonry and concrete.

"The reflection is really beautiful," Stockholder told the Chicago Tribune. "It picks up details like I couldn't have imagined. The challenge was to have the work maintain itself in the middle of all this. The hope is it does that while embracing all of the busyness and clatter."

Stockholder had to make concessions to see her project reach fruition. She could not bathe the entire intersection in color due to safety concerns. Instead, the colored geometric shapes enabled the crosswalks and intersection to function without endangering pedestrians or commuters.

"(The city) doesn't want to have accidents and get sued," she noted.

MIDDLE EAST GROWTH: During the course of a drupa year, a bevy of press releases tend to come across the wire. Some are garden variety, while others grab your attention in an instant. One Goss International release fit the latter description.

One of the most noteworthy contract signings saw Al-Wifaq Printing agree to purchase a pair of 16-page Goss M-600 web presses. Al-Wifaq Printing is located in Iraq, which is not exactly a hub for printing activity. According to Muthanna Samad Al-Samarraie, owner and managing director of the Baghdad-based firm, the 2013 installations will help contribute toward the development of the printing industry in the Arab nation.

"Iraq is currently going through an intensive investment program, but technical capabilities are only one side of the equation," Al-Samarraie remarked. "We aim to invest in the latest, state-of-the-art technologies that will allow us to reflect the unique spirit and artistic endeavors of our nation. We are investing for the ability to produce publications with the highest quality and aesthetic appeal so that we can give clients the means to express their creative ideas in beautiful, highly impressive print."

Founded in 1988, Al-Wifaq specializes in printing books, magazines and posters. Hopefully the presses, which include Goss Autoplate automatic plate changing capabilities, will help the business prosper in a country, and region, that has been racked by war for decades. PI



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