Salt Lake City Kitties
Updated: Feb 23
February 22, 2021
Our episode on I am Salt Lake Podcast is live!
Listen to Emily Nicolosi and myself talk about our art installations, Purr Pods and Koro Loko, in SLC thanks to The Blocks SLC and We Are From Dust.
Thank you Chris and Krissie! That was fun!
February 10, 2021
Nice profile piece on Salt Lake City Alliance's website, The Blocks, written by Melissa Fields. Learn more about Vega and Luna's journey to SLC and more about Stardust and my mutant vehicle car, the Devils Food Cupcake / Space Muffin.
December 29, 2020
The Purr Pods are in Thrillist!!!!!!
December 20, 2020
Got a call from my friend in England, Yomi from We Are From Dust, at the end of October to let me know Salt Lake City wanted to host Vega and Luna! They were about to settle down for another year at Point San Pablo Harbor and I had to shift gears fast to meet the 3 week deadline.
3 weeks should be plenty of time to ship sculptures that are already made right? NOPE!
Since the sculptures have been out in nature for the past year, they were covered in spider webs and had muddy foot prints all over them (which is all OK because that means critters and people were enjoying them!). They needed to be cleaned to be on display in a plaza. Totally different setting.
There was a request for more lights which meant purchasing more electronics on short notice and running new cables. We also discovered a couple of the speakers were shot and one the of amps was blown. We also had to change the power from solar to direct. More electronics to buy on short notice! Repairs and prep for a snowy environment went into high gear.
AND we had to come up with a solution for securing them to the ground in an urban setting on a public plaza on pavers. Many discussions and emails led to pulling the trigger on building low, metal platforms for each cat. My (former) shop mates, Wes Skinner and Kevin Byall, came up with a design and a plan FAST!
Even though we didn't have Burning Man this year, it felt like we were preparing for Burning Man! It was a mad rush to get all the parts in time to get the job done.
We moved the cats back to The New Shop (where I built Bristol Boo, my friends' Purrsonal Purr Pod and the Peek-a-Boo Purr Pods) so I could prep them for their next lives and we could use them as templates for the new platforms.
Salt Lake City's Downtown Alliance and THE BLOCKS teamed up with We Are From Dust to bring some much needed cheer to SLC's downtown district. But that meant the Purr Pods had to be on site and installed by November 22nd before the big holiday lights reveal on November 27th. Yikes!
There was some hurry up and wait as things were ordered but took time to be delivered. Not stressful at all!!!!!!!!! We worked simultaneously - me prepping the sculptures and Wes and Kevin building the platforms - for two weeks. My husband, Will, set up the new control boxes at home then came to the shop after I installed all the new cables for the lights to connect the new speakers and amps.
The platforms turned out better than I could have imagined!!! They were dubbed "The Bean" and "The Pill" because of their shapes. Wes and Kevin used their new tubing roller to create the gorgeous curves. Kevin calculated the ring sizes that we would use to decorate the platform bases. I spent two full days buffing the rings (same rings used to create the cats) and tying the rings into place on the platforms before they were welded.
There was an uptick in COVID cases and the holidays were fast approaching. I really didn't want to travel at all but had to be there for the installation. I rented a car and left before the platforms had their second coat of paint and the cats were even loaded onto the truck.
But I got updates while I was on the road!
It was such a strange journey. Lots of unknowns with COVID safety, the whole anti-masker and election result denier bullshit and how this project was going to be completed. The weather had been pleasant right up until I left. Rain rolled into the Bay Area and there was snow in the Sierras. Luckily I had rented an AWD and my favorite transport driver, Tom Breen, knows what he's doing! I had lots of hand sanitizer and wipes ready to go and was careful to stay clear of people when I stopped for gas and potty breaks. Didn't drink a lot of water while on the road. Definitely super dehydrated!
First stop - midway point - was Winnemucca and I was delighted to find a Mexican restaurant next door to the hotel that also served giant margaritas to go. The wifi sucked and trying to communicated with the folks involved with the project was next to impossible which only added to the stress. I didn't figure out how to work the stereo with my ancient iPod so I was forced to listen to whatever I could find on the long stretches along I-80. Sometimes I got to rock out and sometimes I got Christmas music.
Made it to Salt Lake City just in time to unpack, decide to do the valet parking for $6 more a day and meet up with representatives from The Gallivan Center, the Downtown Alliance, WAFD and THE BLOCKS to check out the location and make some plans for the following day's arrival of Vega and Luna and the platforms. Found out I would not have power to the cats 24/7 - sort of freaked out because I wasn't sure if that would impact how the lights and purring would work. Will (via phone) told me a way to address that particular problem and I decided to wait until the next day to fix it. I treated myself to a cocktail in the hotel's bar and slept well for the first time in weeks.
The next morning I reached out to SLC friends who had volunteered to help. My truck was arriving at 1pm. Then I went to work to override the clock on the cats' programming. Will anticipated we would need an option out and installed two wires that plugged into two teeny pins that would make the cats' lights and sound come on when they received power rather than on a timer. Seeing and reaching the pins wasn't exactly easy and I did what I called "toilet surgery" to get the wires where they needed to go. What is "toilet surgery" you ask? It's when you use the hotel bathroom to fix your electronics with the aid of your phone (for close-ups in tough to see/reach spots) and a headlamp.
We got the cats and platforms off of the truck with the help of my driver, Tom Breen, VW Bus Camp buddies, John Ward and Leslie Cortsen, new friend Tara Denholm, Katie and Taylor from Panic Button Media and Roy, one of the electricians on the grounds. To be safe, the cats went onto the platforms on moving blankets for the night. For peace of mind, Will walked me threw testing the override back in the hotel room.
The next day was another long day of hurry up and wait but I had wonderful helpers to move the cats (thank you, Emily Nicolosi for loaning me some of your Koro Loko crew!) and who kept me company when I was hanging the lights and connecting all the wires. Thank you, Leslie Cortsen and Dan Cortsen, Tara Denholm and Rowan, Katie and Roy!!!
I was able to convince the head electrician to leave the power on until later in the afternoon so I had time to check everything. Yay!
We did this so fast back home that we never got to check to see how the lights would look or how the purring would impact the platforms. Happy to say that the platforms also vibrate with the purring but there doesn't seem to be any rattling. Whew!
I went back later that night to see the lights when it got darker. It was too early in the evening to really tell but I did see that the lights were glitching. Shit. After talking to Will, we both agreed there wasn't much we could do. So disappointing but I think unless you know the lights aren't supposed to do that it's not that big of a deal. I dubbed it "cat lightning."
I planned to have the cats installed early so I had time to fix anything that came up. I couldn't fix the lighting glitch but I did get to go back and see the lights the next night when they turned the power on much later. Magical!!!
Completely lucked out that more lights were being installed on the grounds so I had power the next morning AND I got a rattling speaker fixed before starting my 2-day drive home. A quick twist of a screwdriver and I stuffed the edges with electrical tape "pillows."
Emily Cannon came by with coffee, a pumpkin scone and words of encouragement.
Thank mew!!! ❤ ❤ ❤
Dreaming of creating smaller art.
Go see Vega and Luna in Salt Lake City if you can. They're scheduled to be there until late spring 2021. Send me pictures of yourself with them if you do!
THE BLOCKS made this spectacular video. Enjoy!
AND while I was in SLC, Bristol Boo arrived in England!!!