The Early Years 1989-1994

The original collection of Tape Art drawings were made in Providence, Rhode Island. The first was made on September 16, 1989 long after the sun had fallen and the night collapsed into light chaos. To celebrate an evening gone awry, we drew a life-sized silhouette of a figure holding an oversized balloon on the ground using a simple medium - masking tape. Predawn, 24 hours later, this drawing was removed and replaced with a representation of a prehistoric time that also ended badly - dinosaurs and cave-persons strewn about. A dawn later, this drawing was removed and replaced with mishap number three, an elaborate chariot crash. All the drawings were made in a collaborative fashion and were removed within 24 hours of their completion. The temporary nature of the medium took full advantage of gaining control of a public space for a short period of time. The fleeting drawings delighted everyone who saw them. This period of nightly experimentation marks the birth of Tape Art, but it took many more years before the medium found its true calling as a tool for empowering others to find a voice through collaborative image making.
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This drawing marks the end of the first three months of nightly Tape Art drawings and is the first subtle variation from a strict silhouette. It was made on a December night that was well below freezing and the tape barely stuck to the walls; the medium was retired for the winter.
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Exhaustion had set in after months of pre-dawn drawing raids on all the blank walls we could find and this was a fitting stylistic experiment for the final mural of that year.


1990: The Great Pirate Ship

Providence, Rhode Island
Ahoy from the lofty brick walls of the largest art school in Rhode Island! With temperatures soaring above 32 degrees, the makeshift collection of Tape Artists were back at it again and tackling even more ambitious projects. With budgets for their tape habit in short supply, a secret admirer stepped in and gifted them not only several cases of masking tape, but the anonymous encouragement to keep the momentum going for the rest of the year.
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Note: With no ladders tall enough to get to the top of the sailing mast, free-climbing in desperation was the only way to reach all the surfaces of this drawing. Throughout this year, the Tape Art drawings found their way into more and more impossible spaces.


1991: Early Crashes

Providence, Rhode Island
The roving pack of Tape Artists occasionally amused themselves by paying homage to some of the classic hits from art history. The top image is a Tape Art replication of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges-Pierre Seurat. Constructing an image out of small pieces of tape lends itself well to imitating the method of pointillism. When we reproduced paintings in tape, one of the most joyous parts was creating the elaborate period frames with crass tape lines.
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It must be said, that when we did produce tape drawings of paintings, one of the most enjoyable parts of finishing the work was representing the fancy rectangular wooden frames with crass tape lines. And in the below image... another horrific crash site.
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Well!  It’s true, we used to draw a lot of crash scenes.   Here is what happens when a roller coaster track breaks and the occupants spill out onto the floor and then are rendered by a pack of loosely organized, sleep-deprived Tape Artists.  It ain't pretty.


1992: Egypt

Cleveland, Ohio

This building was our first skyscraper.  This mural is the second of two drawings made in this location over three consecutive days.  After removing a circus scene with a towering ferris wheel and accompanying tent, we set out to bring a scene from over 3000 years ago to downtown Cleveland.  Michael had recently visited Cairo and saw a breathtaking statue of Ramesses II. It was remarkable to draw this sculptural wonder life-sized in the center of a city. Its monumental scale remained astounding even amongst the looming modern architecture.

Egypt: From on Far

Egypt: Ladder Assisted

Egypt: Cat

Egypt: Fanned

Egypt: Vertical Happiness

Egypt: Ancient Downtown Cleveland

1993: Community Center

Boynton Beach, Florida
At a community center in Boynton Beach, Florida, Tape Art experienced it's first foray into the world of art education. Through a grant awarded by the West Palm Beach Cultural Council, Michael was given the green light to work for several months in a notably underserved community center as well as to create a series of murals in downtown Boynton Beach.  
The community center was located in an area that was notorious for gangs.  This particular center offered the only consistent refuge from the surrounding neighborhoods and was home to the casual hanging out of at least three distinct gangs.  It goes without saying that tensions often ran high and that the community center itself was not free from the resulting violence.   


For three months Michael conducted collaborative Tape Art exercises in the center and slowly developed a rapport with the participating gang members.  This facilitated a higher level of understanding between the groups.  The sessions became an oasis where gang members drew with each other freely and openly enjoyed each other's company.  This time period marks the beginning of our quest to answer to how collaborative drawing can be used for greater social good.

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1994: Static

Cleveland, Ohio
This drawing was designed to be walked and driven on and thusly demanded that it be constructed out of duct tape.  That may sound “cool,” but after ripping with duct tape for 14 hours every single time you pull a piece of tape from your fingers it pulls the knuckle out.  This team of five Tape Artists descended on this street to draw a celestial scene that had a television at the center of its universe.  The following day, tens of thousands of people walked over this drawing to observe it.

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