Following the close of the first year of the NWES in 1976, I drove the old 1955 Harvester pick up back to Fort Wayne, Indiana where my then companions in crime and I had set up the non profit Eureka Railroad Corporation to create a “creative resource center” in six insulated railroad freight cars. The idea was to haul this train around Indiana stopping in communities, joining up with local artists through an “Advance Person” (hats off to David Polovin,) to provide inspiration and resources to explore and make 2D and 3D art. Informed by the already operational Michigan Art Train as well our experience with the New Western Energy Show, we banged our heads against the walls of conservative Hoosier governments, foundations and Arts Commission. After a successful run in situ, we shut down the project.
I built several commercial trade fair exhibits as well as a couple of “Solar Greenhouse”additions to friends’ homes, and, scratching my artist’s itch, created and exhibited sculpture in regional museums.
We learned during our operation of the Eureka Express that our technically inclined community lacked a science museum. As science museums were then the new kid on the block of museum culture, a new non-profit was created to establish a science museum in Fort Wayne. After visits to the Exploratorium in San Francisco and Science North in Sudbury, Ontario, we established Science Central in the old municipal “City Light and Power” generating plant. It is now finally successfully entertaining folks from around NE Indiana.
As part of the effort to raise support for the science museum project my team also built an exhibition of robotic dinosaurs for our Children’s Zoo which included many didactic panels and doubled the attendance of the Zoo.
After leaving Science Central, I was accepted as a graduate student at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. The Department of Art and Technology was my area of concentration and, being older than many faculty members, I made some good friends among them. I also learned to sail on Lake Michigan, a passion I continue to indulge to this day with a small sailboat located on a nearby reservoir dug by hand for the Erie Canal system.
With a new MFA I spent several interesting years teaching art and design as a substitute teacher in the public school system while also caring for my Mother and her Sister.
I retuned to Science Central as an outside contractor developing an interactive exhibit for them detailing the raising of the 1,000,000 lbs. concrete roof of the local coliseum with hydraulic strand jacks. The actual construction effort to raise the roof was a very exciting project and won national awards for the Austrian-born structural engineer who developed it. Our “Lifting The Roof” exhibit relayed that excitement to the public via a 16 ft. wide model of the building. Up to four people at a control station could “raise the roof” via micro-controlled motors and cables. Other hands-on exhibits explored basic machines and structural design associated with the project.
For the past eleven years associates and I have set up and operated TekVenture: An Art & Technology Laboratory and Public Workshop in Fort Wayne. This project spent early years as an adjunct to our local public library system, thanks to the enlightened support of the Librarian. TekVenture was among the first “maker spaces” to operate in the US and possibly the first to operate in a public library. After the Director and I experienced our “15 minutes of fame” interviewed on NPR All Things Considered, many libraries throughout North America started calling and asking how they could also create maker spaces in their libraries.
A long time member of the local Astronomical Society, I created the concept and preliminary design for our new public observatory which is now nearing completion.
I’m really looking forward to meeting my old friends from the New Western Energy Show again and meeting some new ones as well, trading stories and maybe even discussing how we can harness that energy we brought to the NWES to do more inspiring work in our worlds.
Many thanks to all who have made this Reunion possible!!