Shangri-La

Submitted by Aaron T Brown

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Client: Mary Beth and Christopher Turner

Location: New York, NY, United States

Completion date: 2011

Artwork budget: $8,000

Project Team

Artist

Aaron Brown

aarontbrown.com

Industry Resource

Matt Migneault

Greenfield Industries

Industry Resource

Keith O'Halloran

Rapid Finishing

Industry Resource

Dave Double

American Steel

Overview

Christopher Turner saw my white sculpture Shangrila at the Cathedal of St John in NYC and had a vision of it floating like a swan in a long rectangular goldfish pool in a courtyard in the back of his families brownstone in Harlem, NYC. The pool was a recently completed L shape, each leg of the L 18 feet, four feet wide and four feet deep. The sculpture would set in the middle of the leg of the pool that faced the house with an old brick wall as a backdrop.

Goals

The aim of this project was to add an element of creative beauty to the already elegant goldfish pool that had been built in the back courtyard. The goal was to make this heavy work of art look as if it floated gracefully on the waters surface. The handpulled print in the upstairs over the mantel tied in beautifully with the sculpture in the courtyard as the sculpture was created from one of the shapes in that piece.

Process

The entire collaboration process took nine months, from when Christopher first saw the piece. Emails were exchanged over the winter and spring. He and Mary Beth were renovating the ground floor, which would lead out onto the courtyard, and the added expense was an issue. Chris told me that Mary Beth was the sensible one and that she was trying to keep things on budget. We didn't have much communication over the summer and in mid August I received a call from Mary Beth inquiring if I still had the white shape, and that she wanted to buy it and have it installed before Chris's birthday. He was turning 50! I said yes I did but I told her that Chris had told me she was the sensible one! We launched into a plan to have the piece delivered and installed on his birthday, while he was at work. Stealth delivery! I set out to design a base that would raise the 300 pound piece of steel so that it sat just two inches under the water line. Working hand in hand with a small job shop we came up with a rugged base that worked well.

Additional Information

“We are proud owners of both an amazing sculpture and wood block print by Aaron Brown. The sculpture is so unbelievably fantastic in our backyard that every day I wake up to look at it from the upstairs window. I have to confess the sculpture was definitely for my husband originally and I probably would have picked a trip to Europe as a birthday gift but now that we have it in our house, it has transformed the way I start viewing the world every morning and inspires me to look for the beauty in our everyday urban existence.”