Hello Themendous!

“Another unusual build was when we welded a 40-foot fork out of steel to be placed outside, on top of a 13-foot tall meatball at a restaurant entranceway. Oversized foods are our specialty, but a 40-foot eating utensil! That was insane!”

This week we have a special guest post by large-scale sculptors extraordinaire, Themendous! You’ve seen their work all over, but probably not realized it. Giant hotdogs, wicked witch legs, sculptures for Google: their output is creative, eye-catching and BIG. It’s in amusement parks, movies, mini-golf courses, parades – anyplace a big and fun sculpture is needed.themenedous kissThis generous company is one of the sponsors of our Artist Harvest sculpture series. By giving us a special discount on materials and creating a basic pear shape for us out of Styrofoam, we were able to then build onto it with plaster and paint it into the Pear-casso. We were thrilled to work with them, and thank them for their sponsorship.

Themendous is a very interesting place, full of talented people making amazing creations here in New Jersey. Read on for more info about the people behind this company and the history of “The King of Huge” – Themendous.

spiderHow did Themendous get started?

Themendous was started by us (Giovanni and Dena Calabrese) as a custom full-body soft foam sculptural costume company, and over the years evolved into today’s large-scale sculpture company. In college, we built silly costumes for Halloween, our first fully 3D one being this couch.  This is Giovanni.sofa chair

It all was fun, and quickly developed into much more!  Dena was an FIT grad who could sew and create anything.  Giovanni was a marketing major, but once in the corporate field, he knew he had to start pursuing his creative interests.

Together we continued to hone our craft to develop beautiful costumes from soft puppet foam and fabric.  We became very professional walk-around character costume builders.  This is how Custom Creations, our first LLC, was formed. The Macy’s Day Parade commissioned many of our early costume works.Macys Eggplants Macys Duck Costumes

Our combined skills allowed us to create beautiful, professional walk-about costumes.  Below are some of our favorites:Krazie City Nyack Costume 1 Adventure Park Costume 2

Proving that once you put your creative mind to something, you can flourish, Giovanni (without any professional art training) started to carve Styrofoam. That is when we went from a costume company to a sculpture company. Themendous DBA was born!

What is the most unusual item you have created?

We made 30 Purple Gorilla Costumes at a time in three separate orders for Zyrtec. Dena was allergic to the purple fur – and was prescribed Zyrtec in a strange twist of fate to finish sewing the costumes. She had to use a tape lint roller on her face every few seconds to remote the hair fibers from her skin.unnamed

We had purple fur balls around for years after we finished the job and we even found some in our house after we moved in, even though the costume and the fur were never in the house! Spooky!

Another unusual build was when we welded a 40-foot fork out of steel to be placed outside, on top of a 13-foot tall meatball at a restaurant entranceway.  Oversized foods are our specialty, but a 40-foot eating utensil!  That was insane!Themendous meatballWhat is the best part of running Themendous?

The best part of running Themendous is that it is different every day.  Every job is new with different requirements and features.  We are more then just sculptors: we are builders, fabricators, welders, wood workers, seamstresses, puppet builders, performers, and most importantly a team of artists.  Building so large with a solid team of various talents is something to be proud of, because at the end of the day you all get to look back and say, “Wow, we built that!”

What is the hardest part about running your business?

The hardest part of running Themendous is completing a rush job with insanely tight deadlines.  We often get calls from a client who needs something big in a very short period of time. This is when we burn the midnight oil and things get crazy.  We have worked 20-hour days to make a sculpture start to finish for unrealistic deadlines but that is why we are the King of Huge – we make the impossible, possible!

Please take us through the steps of creating a sculpture.

When we want to create a new piece, we start with a flat drawing or design. We then take them image and project it on a huge block of foam to the desired size.  We then start cutting and carving out the piece to create its full 3D form.  We then carve details, sand, and perfect the item until we have a complete sculpture.  It is then hard coated with a two part plastic spray that mixes and heats to 150 degrees and hardens almost instantly on contact.  This creates a weatherproof and extremely durable shell that can be painted as you wish.

Do you make things for fun and try to sell them, or only work on commissions?

We mainly work by commission for clients of all sizes.  Google is by far our biggest client who only uses us for all its Lawn Sculpture and Android OS Sweets.   But we also work with independent businesses and private affairs.

Every once in awhile, we get to do something fun for ourselves.  This year we built an 18-foot tall clown mouth fun house entranceway sculpture to install at Burning Man in the Nevada Desert.  This was fun!!

We creatively paired with an art camp named Kostume Kult and built this beautiful runway entrance for their costume gifting station.  The same piece will be used on their Halloween Float for the NYC Parade this month.

We like connecting with other artists and creatives when we have a moment to break away from the madness of building for our business.  We are artists at heart, just pushing to continue pursuing our dreams and make them a reality every day.

We are also very inspired by the work you have done at the Messy Artist, and would love to do more public interactive pieces that inspire young artists to pursue and keep making art. Thank you for choosing us to carve the pear!Pearcasso at town hall The Artist Harvest copyWhat plans do you have for the future of Themendous – where do you see it in 5 years?

In five years, we hope to continue to expand by working and hiring more artists and talent to really become a more fully staffed shop of artists that can offer many services to our clientele.  If we have more artists, we could expand to a full event one-stop shop.  Time and constant work are always a race to try to outrun, since currently we are only 5 full time employees. Everyone here really works hard to make Themendous flourish on the platform that Giovanni and Dena have laid out.

What was your most challenging piece?

dhmonstermash
2D version
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3D Themendous Sculpture

Our most challenging project was when we decided to transform David Hartman’s “Monster Mash” 2D Illustration into a 3D fully sculpted scene.  His drawing was done in a forced perspective with all characters depicted on an angle from below. We then had to take that visual information and translate it into a fully three dimensional world viewed from all angles!  That was tricky!

Thanks again to Themendous for this guest post. Don’t forget to check out their website and Facebook page to see more of their fantastic sculptures.

The Artist Harvest is on display!

We are proud to announce that our large-scale fruit and vegetable sculpture series, The Artist Harvest, is now on outdoor display in Livingston. If you’ve been in our studios anytime in the past year and a half, you’ve most likely seen them in some form of their evolution. Staff members and students have worked hard creating them, and we are thrilled at the way they turned out. Already we have gotten lots of positive feedback from the public. Go see them yourselves and send us photos – we’ll post them on facebook!

You can find them until mid-November in front of the Livingston Library, Town Hall and Community Center.

The evolution of The Munch-Room:

A mushroom painted in the style of Edvard Munch & inspired by The Scream:

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Here’s more about the series from our friends at Food Day:

In honor of Food Day, Livingston Township will be hosting The Messy Artist’s Artist Harvest, a series of 5 large-scale sculptures. The sculptures, conceived by Messy Artist CEO Donna Bernstein, excites children and adults alike about fruits and vegetables while also honoring the style of a famous artist.

Food Day, sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is a nationwide celebration focused on access to healthy foods and it was created to inspire positive changes in our diets and our food policies.  Livingston is an active participant in this real food movement and has hosted multiple food day events, including Stuff the Bus for CHOW and the Town wide Chili & Quinoa/Kale cook-off, for the past three years.  Food Day is scheduled for Oct 24th annually, however The Livingston Food Day committee, made up of representatives from the West Essex YMCA, Livingston Township, ShopRite, Kings, Livingston Public Schools, C.H.O.W, West Essex Tribune and other community groups, decided that since healthy eating and access to healthy food was so important, events are not limited to just one day.

The evolution of The Vincent Van Gogh Bananas:

A banana painted in the style of Vincent Van Gogh & inspired by Starry Night:

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The Messy Artist, offering art experiences for children and adults, was previously featured at Livingston’s Family Festival Day where they displayed half of their Artist Harvest sculpture collection in the Food Day tent.  The sculptures received such positive feedback that the committee decided to go to the town council to propose a town-wide display and was met with unanimous support.

The sculptures, approximately 4’ x 6’, are visually stunning and designed to provoke conversation related to healthy eating and art appreciation. Over 75 students, including many Livingston residents, helped with plastering, sanding and painting the sculptures while they were being created at the Messy Artist. Five pieces make up the collection:

  • The Munch-Room: A mushroom painted in the style of Edvard Munch & inspired by The Scream
  • The Straw-Dali: A strawberry painted in the style of Salvador Dali & inspired by Persistence of Memory
  • The Peppered like Pollack: A pepper painted in the style of Jackson Pollack & inspired by his Number 8 painting
  • The Vincent Van Gogh Bananas: A banana painted in the style of Vincent Van Gogh & inspired by Starry Night
  • The Pearcasso: A pear painted in the style of Pablo Picasso & inspired by le tete d’une femme lisant

The evolution of The Straw-Dali:

A strawberry painted in the style of Salvador Dali & inspired by Persistence of Memory:

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Bernstein was inspired to create The Artist Harvest from other large-scale sculptures projects such as “The Cow Parade” and “The Great Light Way”  (the West Orange light bulb sculptures). “I decided to focus on fruits and vegetables to instill healthy eating for children and to paint the sculptures in the style of famous artist to promote awareness of art history,” said Bernstein.   She added, “And it has been wonderful to watch the students work cooperatively to create community art.  I had never created large-scale sculptures, so it has been a learning process. We are thrilled with the end results and look forward to sharing them with the Livingston community.”

The evolution of The Peppered like Pollack:

A pepper painted in the style of Jackson Pollack & inspired by his Number 8 painting:

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The sculptures will be located at the three locations including the Library, the Community Center on Hillside Ave and the Town Hall and the display will be up through mid-November. Special thanks to the Livingston Department of Public Works for helping to transport and set up the sculptures and to Michele Meade and the Town Council for their support of this project. For more information on Food Day, go to www.foodday.org; for more information on Livingston Food Day go to https://www.facebook.com/LivingstonFoodDay or email Stacey Rubinstein, Livingston’s Food Day Chair, at staceyrubinstein@gmail.com; and to learn more about the Messy Artist go to www.messyartist.com.

The evolution of The Pearcasso:

A pear painted in the style of Pablo Picasso & inspired by le tete d’une femme lisant:

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Artist Harvest update – August 2015

art class camp and workshops for kids njIn May we were part of Livingston Family Fun Day, a fantastic town wide event. Our Artist Harvest large-scale installation project was part of the Food Day area, encouraging the appreciation of healthy fruits and vegetables – and art.   Thanks to Stacey Rubinstein, Alan Karpas and the Livingston DPW for making everything happen and run so smoothly.the messy artist artist harvest

the artist harvest sculptures new jersey art classes for kidsThe DPW helped us get our giant fruit and vegetable sculptures to the event in the Livingston Oval, and treated our cargo preciously!

fine art class camp amd parties new jersey large fruit and vegetable sculptures the artist harvestOver 100 children stopped by our booth that day to help us paint our giant pepper, “Peppered Pollock,” inspired by Jackson Pollock’s Number 8 painting. Splattering many colors of paint on the pepper on a perfect spring day brought smiles to everyone who did it. We were overjoyed at how receptive the town and families were to our project.

livingston at 200Livingston is continuing to show the love for the Artist Harvest: we’ve recently received confirmation that the sculptures will be on long-term public exhibition in front of three Livingston Town Buildings. Starting in September, Livingston Town Hall, Livingston Library, and Livingston Community Center will be the display locations.

sculpture of fruits and vegetablesMeanwhile – when we are not holding camp or class sessions this summer – we are finishing up work on the remaining 3 sculptures: the Pear-casso (inspired by Pablo Picasso), Georgia OʼPeach (inspired by Georgia OʼKeeffe) and Vincent Van Gogh Bananas (inspired by Vincent Van Gogh). Vincent Van Gogh Bananas is almost finished, and the peach and pear are up next. Stay tuned for more updates and information on the exhibition!nj best kids art class nj kids art class art classes for children new jersey

Painting the pepper!

This week we’ve been finishing up the final details for this Saturday’s event – an unveiling of 3 of our Artist Harvest sculptures, with an invitation to the public to help us paint our “Peppered like Pollack.” We’ll be splattering our specially prepared 6 foot pepper Jackson Pollack style and want everyone to join us!peppered like pollack artist harvest

It’s all happening at the Livingston Oval, in Livingston NJ, from 10am – 1pm on Saturday May 23. The Oval is on South Livingston Avenue, behind the Livingston Library.

We are thrilled to be part of Livingston’s Family Festival Day, a special event during the town’s 18th annual Youth Appreciation Week.  The Family Festival Day is a community-wide celebration, from 10am-3pm, offering many family friendly activities.

We’ll be with the Food Day festivities, a perfect match for the Artist’s Harvest message of healthy eating. Donna Bernstein, owner and COO of the The Messy Artist was inspired to create The Artist Harvest from other large-scale sculptures projects such as “The Cow Parade” and “The Great Light Way”  (the West Orange light bulb sculptures). “I decided to create fruits and vegetables to instill healthy eating for children and to paint the sculptures in the style of famous artist to promote awareness of art history,” said Bernstein.   She added, “Another wonderful part of the process has been to watch the students work cooperatively to create community art.  I had never created large-scale sculptures, so it has been a learning process. We are thrilled with the end results and look forward to sharing them with the Livingston community.”munch room artist harvest straw dali artist harvest sculpture with kids the messy artist harvest large sculpture with kids the messy artist

Our “Straw-Dali” (a strawberry painted in the style of Salvador Dali) and Munch-Room (a mushroom painted in the style of Edvard Munch) are completed and will be on display. The Peppered like Pollack will be awaiting its painting in the style of Jackson Pollack, splattered by the public. We can’t wait to see how it turns out!

To learn more about Food Day go to www.foodday.org. or like the Livingston Food Day Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LivingstonFoodDay. To learn more about the Messy Artist go to www.messyartist.com. And to see the display, be sure to come out on Saturday for the Family Festival.

exciting Artist Harvest update!

All the hard work on the Artist Harvest is coming to FRUITion! (sorry, we couldn’t resist). We will be presenting 3 of our sculptures at the Livingston Oval on May 23 from 10-1 pm. Artist Harvest w Web

We are proud to announce that the Messy Artist will be featured at Livingston’s Family Festival Day, a featured event during the town’s 18th annual Youth Appreciation Week.  The Family Festival Day, scheduled for Saturday May 23, 2015, is a community-wide celebration, from 10am-3pm, offering many family friendly activities including pony rides, a petting zoo, craft tents, face painters, a giant blow-up obstacle course and slides, a chalk walk, and others.

The Messy Artist will be displaying half of the Artist Harvest collection in the Food Day tent.   Food Day is a nationwide celebration focused on access to healthy foods and it was created to inspire positive changes in our diets and our food policies.  Livingston is an active participant in this real food movement and has hosted food day events for the past three years.  Our Artist Harvest collection, a concept conceived by Donna, excites children and adults alike about fruits and vegetables while also honoring the style of a famous artist.

On display at the Food Day tent will be 3 pieces out of the 6-piece collection:

  • Munch-Room- a mushroom painted in the style of Edvard Munchsummer art camp nj
  • Straw-Dali – a strawberry painted in the style of Salvador Dalifine art class nj
  • Peppered like Pollack- a pepper painted in the style of Jackson Pollackartist harvest the messy artist

Here is where you come in! Because we want to get even our youngest artists involved in this public art project, children will be invited to help us complete the Peppered like Pollack.  The display will start at 10am with the pepper in plaster ready for paint and we will end our display at 1pm with a work of art thanks to our many visitors who will pick up a brush and splatter away.   Please consider joining us, and dress for the mess!

Here’s a slideshow of The Artist Harvest Project as it has progressed. Students and staff have been working together to create the giant fruits and vegetables:

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To learn more about Livingston’s Youth Appreciation Week go to http://www.youthappreciationweek.org/

To learn more about Food Day go to www.foodday.org and to learn more about Livingston’s efforts, email Stacey Rubinstein at staceyrubinstein@gmail.com or like the Livingston Food Day Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LivingstonFoodDay.