Friday, April 13, 2012

Designing Images with Meaning - I

Several years ago I was asked to do a series of paintings for a History Walk around part of the new Orange Public Library and History Center. It turned out to be much more of a design problem than a painting project. Certain images were requested and I had the history notes from Phil Brigandi which were to accompany the paintings. I made the paintings much more graphic than I normally paint since the images and history notes were to be transferred to a stone-like material and the idea was that library visitors could walk along and quickly grasp the image and pause to read the notes.

Overview and Welcome

With such a general theme, I was having difficulty coming up with an image. Head Librarian Nora Jacob came to my rescue with the idea for the book and background of the earth and space behind. I wanted to put in some of the interesting tidbits of history within this larger idea and the book gave me the inspiration – bookmarks, of course. Each "ribbon" holds some early history - the only difficulty here was choosing what to include. 

Center Street for the Library
If the first painting was a challenge to imagine, the second was just as ephemeral. This was the last painting done in the series. Once the idea that the Chapman Avenue and Center Street as division lines were “seen” as ribbons then the rest followed nicely. The three versions of the library are depicted in the lower right corner of the painting – stacked upon one another so as to show the relative sizes of each building. The rose is the city flower so a bouquet makes up the largest part of the painting and ribbons with historical notes are again used to convey information. The most interesting to me was learning that Center Street was extended to Chapman Avenue in 1908, having originally been closed off. The newest rendition of our library returns the street to its original configuration. The ribbons again provided a space for bits of history.

In all there are 14 paintings. I will add them in subsequent posts.

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