Artist Chelcea to discuss public art


The new artwork will go up in a window at Brown’s Shoe Fit. Photo contributed.

Kelly Pyzik, Editor-in-Chief

The new artwork will go up in a window at Brown's Shoe Fit. Photo contributed.
The new artwork will go up in a window at Brown’s Shoe Fit. Photo contributed.

Brown’s Shoe Fit will soon be home to an original piece of experimental printmaking by Ames-based artist Tiberiu Chelcea. Chelcea will be in Grinnell this Saturday at 11 a.m. in the Caulkins Community Room of the Drake Community Library to talk about his collaboration with the Grin City Collective for this piece of commissioned public art and demonstrate his unique, self-invented form of shoe print printmaking. Molly Rideout ’10, Co-Director of Grin City Collective, will then talk about the public art project as a whole and three other works that will be going up.

Traditionally, printmaking is done by carving an image into a woodblock, coating the block in ink, placing a piece of paper or other material on top and then running it all through a printing press, using the pressure of the press to transfer the ink image from the woodblock to the paper. In Chelcea’s experimental printmaking style, shoes act as both the pressure and the woodblock carving, creating the image of the shoe bottom by pressing down onto a protected sheet of paper placed over a plexiglass surface with ink between the two.

On Saturday, March 12, Chelcea will show each piece of the printmaking setup he has created and explain how it works, and attendees will get the chance to do ‘a stomp’ and see the printmaking in action. Later in the year, Chelcea will hold a “stomping party” at Brown’s Shoe Fit during one of its busier times and everyone who visits the store will get the chance to put their footprints on the final piece.

“The site is a shoe store. I thought it would be fun to create a piece based on footprints of people of Grinnell or who come to the shoe store,” Chelcea said. “My work is related to technology in some way or another, but I have a very strong interest in printmaking and mostly this kind of experimental printmaking technique.”

The final piece will be double-sided, so it can be admired from both inside and outside the store, and it will be a six by six foot quilt-like piece made up of smaller square panels.

All four pieces for Grin City Collective’s public art project are site-specific, and Grin City is working diligently to inform and excite the town of Grinnell about the pieces before they are placed.

“One of the important things, as I see it, for a public art project is for as many people to know about it before it goes up as possible,” Rideout said. “It’s definitely not plop art, there was definitely consciousness put into it.”

Chelcea is a fitting artist to have chosen for collaboration in this project because, according to Rideout, “He’s a real force of the art scene in Ames that’s separate from Iowa State.”

Based on 2016 fiscal year data from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Iowa spends about 42 cents per person per year on grants to arts organizations and other state-funded public art projects. This leaves Iowa in about the bottom half of states in terms of arts spending. As one of the highest ranking states, Minnesota spends about 6 dollars and 25 cents per person per year on the arts.

A mockup of what the artwork will look like. Photo contributed.
A mockup of what the artwork will look like. Photo contributed.