April '23

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6 2 G R A P H I C S P R O • A P R I L 2 0 2 3 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M S I G N A G E & P R I N T I N G One of his former projects employed 40 rounded graphics on the Taylor Creek Visitor Center's paved trails and walk- ing paths near South Lake Tahoe. It was commissioned by the National Forest Foundation and displayed for a full year, ending in November 2021. e temporary public artwork, called "Reading Forest," was on weathered and uneven asphalt at a 6,000-foot elevation and represented slices of tree rings with bark around the perimeters. Inside the rings, which ranged from 12 to 60 inches across, were quotes from science, poetry, and religion about forests, ecology, change, and resilience. Using AlumiGraphics GRIP Gilens used AlumiGraphics GRIP for its non-skid surface and aluminum sub- strate that is able to withstand harsh weather conditions, he says. "It tests for adhesion and slip- periness, which is important in my work," Gilens says. "It's an aluminum material with a vinyl coating that you can print on. I can almost burnish the material into the little crevices and unevenness of the asphalt, which gives it a better adhesion than bridging the tiny gaps." To install each tree ring, Gilens had to clean the asphalt, then install the graphic using a variety of soft roll- ers for different surfaces. He peeled off the wax paper on the printed ring to expose the adhesive and pressed the adhesive by moving a roller back and forth on the asphalt, working slowly and carefully to get a good adhesion. He also made sure to pick spots where there wouldn't be any standing water, which could cause the graphic to deteriorate, though it can get wet and dry again. "e most important tool is patience," Gilens says. "We're working outdoors, and the wind might blow up a bunch of dust, and we're trying to align graphics onto a spot on the ground. When you tear some- thing, it can be difficult to repair depend- ing on what the graphic is." Another project Gilens did was "Shade," a 1,000-square-foot image of a garden shade plant installed over a lattice struc- ture at the Universit y of Ca lifornia Botanical Garden at Berkeley propaga- tion house. He used a donated premarket product by Avery Dennison that didn't end up getting released for commercial use — the material was experimental, pro- prietary, and non-PVC based. It protected the plants and provided them with shade. Gilens printed the plant image in 22 pieces that had to be aligned and assem- bled in the right order. He applied the adhesive by slicing, tucking, folding, and smoothing it around the sides and back of each 1.5-inch aluminum lath. "Normally the wrap is installed on a continuous surface, but in this case, the surface was 50 percent missing," Gilens says. "If you're wrapping a car, you have to be careful around the corners and mirrors. In this case, we had to be careful the whole time — the whole surface was details." Gilens is currently working on a proj- ect in Reno, Nevada called "Confluence," which consists of a continuous graphic of his 4,500-word poem about stream dynamics and how water shapes land- scapes. e graphic, which is in 500 pieces, will consist of handwriting a quarter-inch wide that's cut out of a Continental Grafix product called FoilWalk. e bright yel- low letters will cover one mile of curbs and sidewalks, extending from a local park along the Truckee River and through the downtown area. Gilens picked the mate- rial since it's able to resist extreme tem- perature changes and handle an elevation of 3,000 feet, he says. "The big challenge was to cut letter- ing from a floor graphic material because floor graphics have a rough surface so that they're slip resistant," Gilens says. "I did tests on several materials to find one that would stay on the ground." GP This temporary public artwork, called "Reading Forest," was on weathered and uneven asphalt at a 6,000-foot elevation and represented slices of tree rings with bark around the perimeters. (Images courtesy Todd Gilens) Pushing the Boundaries on Graphics Installations A podcast with Todd Gilens

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