Michael and the Ladder Slam
One thing A.R.T. artists crave is action of the physical kind.
The Tracker asking “Who’s next?” two of the eager artists made their amazingly fast and powerful electric wheelchairs leap for the studio workstation. The violent impact made a crashing sound, both their heads thrown back, the other artists cheered.
Clearly sensing their desire for consequential physical action we rigged up two four by four sheets of three quarter inch plywood, one to be placed on the ground outside the school, the other secured to the end of a tall extension ladder.
On both squares of plywood the artist directed the creation of a painting thick with acrylic gel.
Signaling the paintings were ready the ladder was drawn up so it was vertical, the thick with paint painting way up there. A long length of clothes line coming from just beneath the painting to the wheelchair of the artist.
By driving their electric wheelchair slowly in reverse they would pull the top of the ladder so in a most dramatic arc it would bring the face of the high painting into the face of the thick wet painting on the plywood on the ground.
Such impact. Such a whooshing sound the ladder had made on its way down.
Not to worry, the artists with their pull cord were far from the impact zone.
Oh did they love this technique.
Michael’s turn, one of his paintings on the now vertical ladder, the painting high above the ground, the long pull cord taut, Mike did not back up to pull it over but remained still, gazing up at it. Some even better, even more dramatic form of action having occurred to him.
Instead of reversing Michael had his chair inch forward, the ladder beginning to lean the wrong way. [In Michael’s mind the right way.] If the ladder went the wrong way it would strike a row of parked cars, including the spiffy car owned by the school’s director .
“Mike? Mike. Hey Mike.”
A devilish grin he drove a little further until I heard the Tracker saying, “Oh my god. Oh my god.”
“Don’t do it Mike!”
And giving in he jacked into reverse and with a mighty whoosh and a violent slam his two paintings met face to face.