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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The third product used was Asphalt Art, accessed through Milano Digital. Asphalt Art, in all three colors, went across sidewalks, crosswalks and the middle of the intersection, Schellerer says. The final material employed was General Formulations Inc.’s Concept 230-54. This is a self-adhesive vinyl that was used to wrap lamp posts, flower beds, awnings and any other inanimate objects protruding from the streetscape. It also depicted all three colors.
Some 30 rolls of GFI’s Concept 230-54, a product typically used to wrap vehicles, were utilized. What’s more, half of them were donated by Mike Clay, president of Sparta, MI-based General Formulations, Inc.
“It was a distinctive request, and kind of a unique project,” Clay says, in justifying the donation. “Why did we do it? Because it’s a unique, fun project. We don’t promote this product to wrap buildings, or for downtown exteriors or city intersections. But it just goes to show this wrap material can be used for more than wrapping vehicles. They did a great job of printing and installing it.”
To print the UltraFlex mesh vinyl and the Clear Focus perfed vinyl, a 16-foot HP Scitex XL 1500 printer was employed. Of the 76,000 sqft produced for this project, 60,000 sqft were printed on the Scitex XL1500 Printer. The GFI Concept vinyl, meanwhile, was printed on a 60-inch printer. “Because this would be seen at such close range, we refused to have any banding or imperfections,” Schellerer says. “We held to that even though it took 4-½ hours per roll for 30 rolls of material.”
The Asphalt Art, on the other hand, was painted, recalls Debra Lucas, Midwest sales representative for Milano Digital, the supplier of the product. “The Asphalt Art is a product that’s typically digitally printed,” she explains.
“But they wanted to take it out of the box and paint it on site. Digital printing would cost more, and it couldn’t be touched up, [a concern] because the product would be scuffed.
“I researched paint, what would work, and bought the paint. It happened to be Benjamin Moore. We had to go with what we knew would be best. We painted samples and sent them to the manufacturer of Asphalt Art to confirm we were within safety standards. They said we were within those standards. Once the paint was found, the process took just two weeks.”
As it worked to complete the materials, the team anticipated having 14 nights for the installation. But eventually, the city reduced that to eight days. In order to fit a shortened schedule, some work had to be done ahead of time. “Our solution was to pre-paint all the Asphalt Art,” Schellerer says. “Originally, we were going to lay down all the Asphalt Art all white, and paint it on site. [Pre-painting] saved us a lot of time and probably a lot of mess. Debbie Lucas saved us on that by making her warehouse available to stage a project of that size.”
Recalls Lucas: “We had just moved to this warehouse in Bensenville a month or two earlier. Gary kept asking me if I knew a place to stage that work. It finally just dawned on me we had some space.”
Notes Schellerer: “We finished printing the day before the installation. After everything was printed, we still had to weld all the mesh banners together. And they had been printed in 16-foot panels, which had to be welded together to create one banner per side of each building.” A Miller WeldMaster was used to weld the 16-foot mesh banners together for the sides of buildings, he says.
To install Color Jam, the Bloomingdale Signs by Tomorrow installation team worked through the hours of least Loop traffic, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. “The permitting was getting kind of hard to schedule, and we were at first only allowed to close down one quarter of an intersection at a time,” Schellerer recalls. “But the city got onboard and eventually issued us a blanket permit to close down whatever part of the intersection we needed during that eight-night period.”
It’s difficult to name just one “biggest challenge” on a project of this scope, Alan Schellerer says. “But the portion I was most obsessed with was the color matching. There were four different materials and three different colors. They had to match, and it they didn’t everyone would know it in a very big way.”