Temporary ‘tape art’ mural growing on Sordoni Art Gallery facade

By Mary Therese Biebel - [email protected]
Raleigh Chadderdon Film #6 Tape Art Crew, 10x10 Art Prize
Artist Michael Townsend, 47, of Providence, R.I., works on creating a mural on the facade of Wilkes University’s Sordoni Art Gallery in Wilkes-Barre. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Sordoni Art Gallery assistant director Nikki Lewis, 24, helps apply tape to the side of the Sordoni Art Gallery with gallery attendant Jesse Elliott. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Artist Leah Smith, 26, of Providence, R.I., puts tape on the wall for a display on the side of the Sordoni Art Gallery in Wilkes-Barre. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Assistant Jess Morandi, 18, stands on a ladder to help apply tape to the exhibit on the side of the Sordoni Art Gallery in Wilkes-Barre. - - Sean McKeag | Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — You can always find art inside Wilkes University’s Sordoni Art Gallery, but this week, thanks to the Tape Art Crew, you’ll see a mural blossom and grow outside on the facade.

“We’re designing it as we go,” said Leah Smith, a co-director of the Rhode Island-based team.

The basic design of the temporary mural, crafted from low-adhesive tape, is a junkyard being transformed into a garden by a group of children.

“I did petals and leaves and carrot stems,” Wilkes University student Jess Morandi, of Long Island, N.Y., said Tuesday, explaining her contribution to the project. “I love working here.”

“I did as far as I could reach,” said non-traditional Wilkes student Gerry DuBoice, of Kingston, pointing to an area where a life-size car and excavator had been drawn with tape.

You don’t have to be a super-confident artist to join in the project, Tape Art founder Michael Townsend said. “If you find a place you’re attracted to, where you like the subject matter, let’s get you involved.”

Whether or not you helped create the mural, Wilkes University and the Providence-rooted Tape Art Crew invite you to visit the Sordoni Gallery at 141 S. Main St. from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, during Wilkes-Barre’s monthly Third Friday Art Walk, and to take part in the “celebratory teardown” that will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Tape Art projects are intended to be temporary, and the low-adhesive tape the artists use adheres to wood, cement, brick, metal, tile and other surfaces without damaging it.

He’s not sad to see the art come down, Townsend said, explaining the teardown is part of the excitement of the project. On week-long projects, he said, “usually by Thursday, I’m really looking forward to it.”

Tuesday’s heavy rainstorms led the artists to design figures of children and lots of garden vegetation on a wall inside the Sordoni building. They would be easy to transfer outside, Townsend said.

The artists of Tape Art Crew have been called the inventors of “tape art” and have created more than 500 large murals and thousands of smaller works on walls around the globe.

“There’s no history of anyone doing this before us,” said Townsend, who started the project 30 years ago.

The Luzerne Foundation and Visit Luzerne County partnered with the Sordoni Art Gallery and the Third Friday Art Block to bring the mural project to Wilkes-Barre.

Artist Michael Townsend, 47, of Providence, R.I., works on creating a mural on the facade of Wilkes University’s Sordoni Art Gallery in Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_tape1-1.jpgArtist Michael Townsend, 47, of Providence, R.I., works on creating a mural on the facade of Wilkes University’s Sordoni Art Gallery in Wilkes-Barre. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Sordoni Art Gallery assistant director Nikki Lewis, 24, helps apply tape to the side of the Sordoni Art Gallery with gallery attendant Jesse Elliott.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_tape3-1.jpgSordoni Art Gallery assistant director Nikki Lewis, 24, helps apply tape to the side of the Sordoni Art Gallery with gallery attendant Jesse Elliott. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Artist Leah Smith, 26, of Providence, R.I., puts tape on the wall for a display on the side of the Sordoni Art Gallery in Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_tape5-1.jpgArtist Leah Smith, 26, of Providence, R.I., puts tape on the wall for a display on the side of the Sordoni Art Gallery in Wilkes-Barre. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Assistant Jess Morandi, 18, stands on a ladder to help apply tape to the exhibit on the side of the Sordoni Art Gallery in Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_tape4-1.jpgAssistant Jess Morandi, 18, stands on a ladder to help apply tape to the exhibit on the side of the Sordoni Art Gallery in Wilkes-Barre. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Public invited to ‘celebratory teardown’ on Friday

By Mary Therese Biebel

[email protected]

Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.

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Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.