Thursday, November 03, 2011

Howard Theatre Restoration Project

I've been sitting on this news for a while now and it's burning a hole in my harddrive. I'm very excited to announce that I will be working on a project for the the restoration of the Howard Theater in Washington, DC. 

The Howard Theatre was a Beaux Arts Style theater built in 1910.  During its peak it catered to an African American clientele and was an extension of U streets "Black Broadway".  Many famous acts came through the Howard including Duke Ellington, Danny KayeAbbott and CostelloCesar Romero, Pearl Bailey, Buddy Holly, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown and the Flames, Otis Redding, Lena Horne, Lionel Hampton, Redd Fox and Chuck Brown. Just so many  amazing shows!

The Theatre closed in 1980 and has sat empty for the past 30 years. Plans for renovations were long and extensive but have been underway and the reopening is scheduled for April 2012. The artist Brower Hatcher and his team at Mid-Ocean Studios won the commission to create a public art installation at the Howard Theatre.

This is the design that he created

Jazz Man

The design is a free standing trumpet player to sit atop the theatre. His sculpture is constructed of powder coated stainless steel rods. It is the practice of Mid-Ocean Studios to often work with artists in the cities that they have received commissions. After a series of portfolios reviews and questions, I was asked to participate. 

This is a dream project for me in many ways. The Howard Theatre is a building I walk by often. It is only 6 blocks from my house and with both my history in working in theatre and my fascination of urban american ruins, I have been very drawn to the space. I have also been looking for ways to get into public art and haven't yet had the opportunity. This is a great thrill and honor for me. And I've been so excited I can hardly stand it!

So what am I doing? I'll be creating the trumpet that Jazz Man is playing! 
Here is my design:
Trumpet Design by Sean Hennessey
The overall trumpet will be in cast concrete. the bell of the trumpet will be in cast glass. I have also added cast glass pieces in the negative space of the trumpet.  To create the final piece I will construct a mock up in clay, wood, metal pipe, cut glass, and found pieces, then make a 2 part rubber mold of the maquette. I will cast the bell section in wax, make a plaster /silica mold of the wax, melt the wax out, and fill the void with glass which I then fire in my kiln. I will fit the glass sections into the rubber mold, add a stainless steel armature, and pour tinted concrete into the void. After the concrete sets up I will demold the piece, clean it up, and seal it. 

In addition to the trumpet sitting on top of the theatre, I will be making an additional one for a display in the lobby.

I will post pictures of my progress.


Howard Theater Restoration

Mid Ocean Studio


Arty4ever said...

Super cool! Looking forward to seeing this!

Dina said...

Congratulations Sean--this is great news!

N'lo said...

Oh my word! Great design element. The bell will catch and "sing" with the light on sunset evenings. I very much look forward to seeing it completed - as I have enjoyed watching its progress.

Regina said...

How are things going on this project?! You should come to a Bloomingdale Civic Association meeting to update everyone on progress!