jen simon on “rogan”
lifted up into a sunny morning, he came into his own
Center of Wonder consultant Jen Simon offers this behind-the-scenes look at the current ArtSpot installation, “Rogan,” by Reven Marie Swanson:
When I first got on site to help with the installation of Reven Marie Swanson’s nearly life-size flying horse, “Rogan,” I had only a vague idea of how the ArtSpot worked. Something about jumper cables and a joy stick. Little did I know just how ingenious the design was.
Transformed from a JHMR chairlift into a public art installation viewed by something like 30,000 people daily, the ArtSpot is not only a resourceful repurposing of defunct equipment, an upgrade of a signage eyesore, but also a feat of engineering. The pole that holds the piece opens up to reveal a deceptively simple looking counter-weighting system. Hidden within an ornate box at the base of the structure is a powerful winch that can lift 2,000 lbs. Lest you think that you can operate the ArtSpot yourself, ArtSpot designer Bland Hoke installed a few failsafes, including the need for a secret, one-of-a-kind wrench (built by the artist himself, of course) that works the giant bolt at the ArtSpot’s base.
Likewise, when “Rogan” was being unpacked, the cleverness of his design wasn’t totally apparent.
He was beautiful, and lovingly created, to be sure. But as he was lifted up into a sunny morning, he came into his own: the east side glowed, lit up with color from an original powdercoating process designed by Swanson. Later in the day, lit from the west, he seemed like an entirely different horse. Each shift of the sun, wind, and cloud cover reveal facets of Rogan previously unnoticed. Swanson talks a little about this—and the sense of wonder she hoped to inspire—in this short video by Carrie Richer.
- Jen Simon