Local artisan Jonathan Casey (Solid716) is an extremist, though not in the way that you might think. Jonathan approaches everything that he is tasked to do with zest, zeal and fiery fervor. It is for that reason that I am not surprised to see that he is managing to build a giant wooly mammoth on a sleepy little street deep on the city’s West Side. The wooly mammoth project is part of the West Side Lots initiative, driven in part by CEPA Gallery.
This latest magnificent creation can be found at 34 Helen Street. That is where Jonathan is hustling and bustling to build his wooly friend. He is currently camped out inside a heated tent, where he is in the midst of sculpting the beast. I stopped by yesterday to check in on the progress, and found that artisan Nancy Gabriel had joined in on the fun. Jonathan’s dad was also there lending a hand.
Jonathan told me that the structure of the wooly mammoth is made with steel. From there, he is applying a dense Styrofoam that is cut with a heated wire. The wire slices through the foam as if it was a soft cheese.
Truly fascinating. It’s also an incredible feat! From there, concrete is slathered onto the animal, giving it a lifelike texture.
The wooly mammoth stands on top of a cement foundation that was poured previous to work beginning. Jonathan has created a quick-release system made out of iron shackles, so that once the project is over, the work of art can be hauled off by crane. Jonathan is hoping to piqué the interest of the Albright-Knox. After all, this is a full-scale model that is sure to draw a lot of attention upon completion.
This particular work of art was first dreamed up by an artist at Starlight Studio who thought that it would be amazing to see a lifelike wooly mammoth constructed in Buffalo. Thanks to the efforts of CEPA Gallery and Jonathan Casey, that young artist’s dream is coming to fruition.
BRO will be following the wooly mammoth project through to its completion, and hopefully on to a second life where it will continue to drive the imaginations of those who encounter it.