When it comes to politics, sports, jazz and blues, architecture, culture and a great many other categories, Chicago is a truly colorful city. But recently, that status was taken to literal and figurative new heights, with the unveiling of “Color Jam.” The creation of artist Jessica...
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When it comes to politics, sports, jazz and blues, architecture, culture and a great many other categories, Chicago is a truly colorful city.
But recently, that status was taken to literal and figurative new heights, with the unveiling of “Color Jam.” The creation of artist Jessica Stockholder, Color Jam saturates building facades, sidewalks, crosswalks and more in what is the largest public art project in the Windy City’s history. An entire Chicago intersection, State and Adams in the Loop, has been flood coated with color.
Several months in the creation, Color Jam was completed on June 4, 2012, after eight nights of installation. It will be in place throughout the summer and early autumn, and is scheduled to come down on September 30.
(Click here to see a full photo gallery from the entire project installtion.)
Color Jam is composed of 76,000 square feet of vinyl, enough to produce 50,000 vinyl records, wrap 130 city buses or cover 1-1/2 football fields. It has also garnered national attention. Its creation was featured on Rock Center with Brian Williams, and ABC’s Good Morning America and the Fox network are among media outlets that have produced features on the innovative art project.
Part of Art Loop, a long-term project that infuses Chicago’s downtown Loop district with contemporary art, Color Jam is the catalyst for a series of public events, including concerts, speeches and other happenings, that will be taking place throughout the Loop this summer. It has even spurred area businesses to create their own Color Jam specials on items ranging from drinks to hotel stays.
Taking it to the Streets
The Color Jam project was awarded earlier this year to Bloomingdale Signs by Tomorrow, a 21-year-old shop in Bloomingdale, IL, near Chicago. Founded by Gary Schellerer Sr., the company is also headed by sons Gary Jr. and Alan, and has six graphic designers and 14 3M-certified graphics installers. “We have digital printers ranging from latex to solvent to UV flatbed technology, and can print up to 16 feet wide,” says Alan, director of operations and project manager for the company. “We have full finishing capabilities, including banner sewing and welding, and full lamination capabilities.”
Bloomingdale Signs by Tomorrow was courted for the project by Color Jam’s sponsor, Chicago Loop Alliance.
“We were the third company they approached, and we were recommended to them by a customer for whom we had produced a single banner three years ago,” he laughs. “The other companies approached did not have all the capabilities in house of producing a project of this scale.”
Chicago Loop Alliance forged an agreement with Bloomingdale Signs three months before the installation. “When the project was brought to us, we were handed a piece of paper with a crayon drawing of the intersection,” Schellerer remembers. “We had to do the material discovery, along with color matching, and we had a limited set budget we had to stay within as well.”
(Check out this video produced by Bloomingdale Signs By Tomorrow detailing the creation and installation of the Color Jam.)
Alan worked with his dad, Gary Schellerer Sr., to handle the material discovery, he recalls. Once materials were approved, the project progressed through the company’s organization, from color matching to print production to the company’s finishing team, and finally to its installation team.
Along the way, permission to install the graphics had to be obtained from every tenant in all four of the buildings to be colored. The Chicago Loop Alliance handled most of that task, Schellerer says.
Four different materials were used for the entire project, Schellerer says. A 10-ounce mesh vinyl from UltraFlex Systems, in hues of warm red and turquoise, was used on two concrete buildings. A perforated vinyl film from Clear Focus, in colors of warm red and Kelly green, was added to two glass buildings.