Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Rocket Grants Rocketeer

This past winter I had the pleasure of being invited to create new images for the Rocket Grants program. (The program, now in its fifth round, provides direct funding to artists in the Kansas City region for innovative, public-oriented projects in non-traditional spaces. I received a grant in 2012 for my project Give Take Give.) In 2012 and 2013, artists created fantastic drawings that incorporated all of that round's winning projects into one image.

Charlie Mylie, 2012

Drew Roth, 2013

Unlike past years, my task was to create one or two images that represented the spirit of the program as a whole as opposed to illustrating all of the individual projects. Initially I was drawn to the idea of giant space rocket engines and the engineers who design and maintain them - so magnificently complex and cool looking. Later I recalled my own memories of rockets and how I propelled them to fly on missions far far away as a kid (one of my first memories is being awakened by my dad in the middle of the night to watch the first moon landing).

And of course there was the jet pack, my dream and desire ever since I saw the James Bond movie "Thunderball." This was probably the most direct symbol for the lift-off the grants program can provide artists, and it turned out to be the one that the Rocket Grants folks wanted me to develop. I worked it up from a quick sketch to this spraypaint stencil. In the final image, a Rocket Grantee takes off over the skyline of Kansas City captivated by a v-shaped arrow of migrating geese heading south.

The Rocketeer premiered in February and since then has appeared in a growing number of unexpected places...

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