Monday, October 31, 2005

Kidnappers - First Contact

Earlier in the day I emailed the kidnappers to negotiate meeting them at a time and place of my choosing. Fortunately for me they agreed. I chose Sunset Lake Park at dusk. I chose Sunset Lake Park because I knew it was well lit and there were plenty of places to hide a video camera.

So, I arrived a bit early and brought "SLUMP" with me. Who's SLUMP? Well, any campaign needs to implement security precautions. So SLUMP was hired to be SUMP's body double. Unfortunately SLUMP was off duty (so to speak) when SUMP was kidnapped. In any event, he insisted upon coming along. I agreed since there's safety in numbers.

The kidnappers arrived shortly after I placed the hidden camera. They arrived in some sort of SUV or mini-van. While I was trying to count people's silhouettes, out popped the "Unknown Comic" wearing a paper bag with eye holes cut out. My initial instinct was to walk up to the vehicle to meet him. But then I remembered the camera was rolling and he'd be out of frame. So in an awkward movement, I back stepped in the hopes to get him in the frame. (Unfortunately the event looks a bit staged. But it wasn't). Anyway, We exchanged a few words. As I was about to ask some questions he handed me an envelope. It was obvious I was to read the letter in the envelope and not ask any questions. So as I read the letter trying to determine what I was to do next they quickly drove away . As I finished the letter, it became clear another face to face meeting had been requested (for tomorrow). That meant SUMP wasn't coming home tonight.

The clock is definitely ticking. The campaing officially ends November 2nd... It wouldn't look good to have a no show candidate.

Kidnapper's New Demands

This photo was emailed to me by the captors. I just received it this morning.

Over the weekend the kidnappers tried, unsuccessfully, to provide me new demands for the release of SUMP. Apparently they tried to leave a comment (with their demands) on my fine art blog and it didn't go through (And I didn't block their comments). Yet the outpouring of people demanding the release of SUMP went through just fine. . Strange??

So THANK YOU EVERYONE for pulling together and making your voices known by commenting. SUMP very much appreciates it and so do I.

As for the kidnapper's new demands (I just received) this morning. They involve two major components. One I'm supposed to stand in front of the Vicksburg Fire Dept. tonight (during trick or treating) and hand out FREE SUMP "flyers" to passers by. On the back of each "flyer" I'm supposed to include a unique identifier (letters or numbers) so the receipients can add a comment to this blog (and be identified). Supposedly I'll be under surveilance while doing this. In addition, individuals behind the plot will be among the people getting the "flyers"...

Here's the second major component. I'm supposed to be ready to give the "Unknown Comic" one of the flyers and he will give me something in return. If I don't know who the "Unknown Comic" is I'm supposed to ask around.

So there you have it. You have to hand it to the kidnappers, they certainly are a clever and creative bunch....

So what happens next? I'm not sure yet. Hopefully, we'll have a positive resolution by tomorrow....

SUMP The Yard Signs

Although the kidnappers appear to have the upper hand, the Friends of SUMP Election Committee agreed the campaign must move forward.

It may seem as though the election committee is operating on blind faith that SUMP will be returned. But, it could also mean the Election Committee knows something the kidnappers don't. ?????

Since their demands to get 10 comments on the "10/20/05 SUMP Goes to Jail" post has been met, It's up to them to make their next move.

Meanwhile, here are some video clips depicting the placement of the VOTE SUMP! yard signs. A special thanks goes out to "Kelp Mango" for placing the signs around Kalamazoo and Portage.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

SUMP Kidnapping Plot Thickens

The captors have issued the following demand on my fine art blog:

"Glad you decided not to invlolve the police - that would have only made things worse. This guy can be a little ornery. We finally fed him (rotten potatoes and road kill), then he calmed down a bit. He wants to talk to you and is pleading for help, but the time is not right yet. Your first set of instructions is to get 10 more postings on this site. They must all be from different identities. Careless entries will only bring more trouble for Sump."

The site they're referring to is the 10/20/05 SUMP Goes to Jail post (on my fine art blog). So if you're reading this please leave a comment regarding SUMP's release Here!

In addition, the captors sent a photo of SUMP to show his current condition. Unfortunately, I don't have access to the SUMP email account (from home). So I'll most likely post that photo on Monday morning.

So please comment on that particular post to show your support for SUMP.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Details are sketchy but, apparently in an early morning raid SUMP has been kidnapped (from my front yard). An ongoing dialogue between myself and the captors has been established. The comment section of 10/20/05 "SUMP Goes to Jail" post on my other blog details the ongoing dialogue. View my other blog here: sammo's blog

***Although this kidnapping may seem like it was part of the SUMP project, it wasn't. I really have no idea who is behind the plot or what the outcome will be.***

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

SUMP Campaigns in Vicksburg! (Finally)

Despite SUMP's unfortunate incarceration he was (finally) able to campaign in Vicksburg!!!!

If you enjoy this public art project be sure to cast your vote for SUMP. While you're at it, don't be shy, request a free SUMP mini-print too...

Monday, October 24, 2005

SUMP Hits the Campaign Trail

SUMP leaving his house
It only made sense for SUMP to campaign in Colon
SUMP in Mendon
SUMP inspects the facilities in Centreville
SUMP poses in front of the St. Joseph River

A few select towns were visited by SUMP over the weekend. Those towns included Kalamazoo, Portage, Leonidas, Colon, Mendon, Centreville, Scotts and Schoolcraft (all in Michigan). If you're living in one of those towns, look around you may find some SUMP campaign items. Have fun with it and be sure to vote.

EVERYONE IS ELEGIBLE TO VOTE!!!! (Even if you don't live in the areas SUMP is being promoted). So if you enjoy watching this project progress visitSUMP! web site and cast your vote! Tell your friends too.******

Friday, October 21, 2005

SUMP Back on the Campaign Trail

Much has happened since SUMP's incarceration. It appears as though he can hit the campaign trail once again. There's still some minor hoops to jump through but it looks promising.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

SUMP! Goes to Jail.

The second photo is for photofridays "conspicuous" topic and for illustrationfridays "cold" topic.

SUMP in the holding area of the police station. The municipal bldg and police station are attached.
SUMP upon release from "jail"
***(This is my submission for illustration friday's topic of "cold" because it was really cold when I placed the illustration of SUMP around town. It's also my photo submission for photo fridays topic of "conspicuous")****

For those of you who may not have been following my VOTE SUMP! Public Art Project here's the concept in a nutshell. I created a ficticious character to run for a ficticious office in Vicksburg, Michigan. This ficticious character's name is SUMP! He's running for the ficticious position of Sewage Commissioner. The goal was to treat this character as if he were a real candidate. That meant he would be promoted via flyers, yard signs and a web site. The project was created to be family friendly and for the enjoyment of Vicksburg residents. (Read my other posts from 9/19/05 to get a more detailed picture of how the project progressed).

12:00 am Monday morning marked the official roll-out date for SUMP. Joined by a buddy of mine from work (he was also the one who coded the web site) we set about preplanning the placement of window clings, mini-sump posters and two large sumps around town. After the pre-planning we hit the streets and got down to placing Sump "stuff" in CONSPICUOUS public places.

In addition to braving the COLD weather we were trying to stay one step ahead of the cop who was on duty. Since my public art projects are done anonymously and without permission there's an inherent risk that a project can go down in flames very quickly. I've developed some safeguards to keep my projects from failing even if the police take down major portions. But, I have to admit on this SUMP project there was very little I could do to safeguard myself. It really was an all or nothing project.

For awhile everything was going very smoothly until we made our way to Main Street. We managed to avoid the cop on a previous occasion but this time he spotted us. I wasn't too freaked out because I hoped he'd see that this was totally harmless and for the enjoyment of the community. No laws being broken... just a citizen giving back to his community. If he were community minded he'd possibly allow the project to continue. That's the benefit of living in a small town. After the first 30 seconds I knew it was done. In fact he had already taken down the two large SUMPS placed them in his trunk. In addition he also had taken down most of the window clings. Even more, he took down my 11 paintings I placed a week prior. Anyway as we talked he proceeded to tell me how this could be considred graffitti or littering.

SUMP as graffitti? SUMP a piece of litter? I didn't stand a chance. (The irony is SUMP is probably more closely related to litter)

As I mentioned this is the riskiest part of doing public art anonymously. It's all or nothing. His point was valid about not having permission.

Anyway, the officer said I could pick up SUMP in the morning and I was welcome to talk to the village manager about proceeding further. (Keep in mind I sent the village manager a box of SUMP merchandise with a note letting him know a public art project was going to be underway soon). That safeguard didn't work.

Seeing that SUMP doesn't have friends in high plces he had to spend the night in "jail".

So long story short, I introduced myself to the village manager (that morning) and explained what my intent was about this and future projects. He is a very likable person and I felt our discussion went well. He was totally fine with my paintings being left around town. I only needed to let the police department know beforehand. I should mention the village office had one of my abstracts hanging near their window, as well as, one of my smaller character drawings. So apparently my art had been well received.

Although I didn't ask to proceed with SUMP I knew it was going to happen the way I'd planned. So he (the village manager) kindly released SUMP and some other confiscated pieces to me. He also allowed me to take a photo of SUMP inside and outside the Village building. Like I said he is a very likable person. He even suggested I get a photo of SUMP next to the police cars. That didn't work out though.

So what's next for SUMP? Vicksburg residents haven't really been exposed to SUMP yet. Although one local business found a mini-sump and emailed to say how much they loved the idea. So right now I'm exploring other ways to expose the community to SUMP.

Be sure to check out the SUMP! web site and play the game.

Stay tuned for further updates.

Monday, October 17, 2005


SUMP officially announces his candidacy for Vicksburg Sewer Commissioner. Go Vote SUMP!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Vicksburg Public Art Project Phase One Has Begun!

Phase one of Vote SUMP! has begun.

This box of "fun stuff" was dropped off at the village manager's office this evening. Along with a note letting him know a new Vicksburg public art project is underway. Granted I didn't divulge too much because I want him to experience the project just like everyone else. The "fun stuff" is merely a sneak peak...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

VOTE SUMP! Update (Opposition Party)


I thought it might be funny to have an opposition party for the VOTE SUMP Project. As a result, a couple days after people get used to seeing SUMP around town I'm going to introduce anti-sump yard signs and flyers. The ficticious party running against SUMP will be The Outhouse Lobby Group. Having an opposition party sort of takes the concept to another absurd level.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

POP TART Illustration circa 1998

Back in 1998 I got the chance to illustrate the back panel of a Pop Tart box. For nearly a year my art was in kitchen cupboards all across North America.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Video Blog - Parkville Rapids

Here's some shots from what I call the Parkville Rapids. It doesn't look real menacing but everytime I've gone down "the rapids" I hit the same rock... and it never ceases to freak me out.

Monday, October 10, 2005


5 foot SUMP Cut Out
SUMP face printing

The VOTE SUMP! Public art project is progressing nicely.

The micro web site is coming together. As is the game. The cafepress shop is ready to sell SUMP! Merchandise Although that's not the intent of the project.

I finally got one full size SUMP! printed and cut out. So far this has been the most difficult part of the project. It takes an hour to print and about two hours to tape down and cut out of cardboard. I have one more to do.

Since the plan is to attach one SUMP to each of the two "welcome to Vicksburg" signs I'm hoping they won't be taken down or stolen the evening I put them up. Much of the project relies on people seeing the large Sump(s). I've safeguarded myself somewhat from this happening because I'll put a note on the back of each one explaining it's part of a public art project and will be removed shortly. Hopefully that will keep the city workers at bay... not necessarilly any theives.

Also along the line of safeguarding the project I bought some SUMP merchandise (t-shirt, boxer shorts and a mug)and will be placing them at the doorstep of the Village Manager's office a couple days before the "big roll-out". I'm also placing what looks like a ransom note telling him to sit back and enjoy this next public art project. I feel if he has a little advanced knowledge about the project he won't freak out when SUMP signs are all over town.

This coming week will involve printing a lot of signs, window flyers and another large SUMP.

Hopefully the roll-out will be within the next 2 weeks. Time will tell.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Video Blog - More Public Art Placed

Finally, the weather was decent enough (last night) to place the 11 or so abstract cardboard paintings I recently completed. This time around I decided to videotape the placement of a couple paintings.

This morning I decided to drive down Main Street (in Vicksburg, MI) to see if any paintings were left. Not a single one. The benches were picked clean. So hopefully there's 11 or so happy people out there.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Archived Art - circa 1995 Pizza

Here's another pen and ink illustration where I used the stipple (tiny dot) technique. I've always enjoyed illustrating food... not sure why.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ice Cream Bar Carton Designs


Here are a couple actual ice cream bar cartons I designed and illustrated. The printing turned out pretty decent.

I know shooting the cartons on a stair railing isn't quite appropriate to the subject matter but, at the time that was the only place I could take a shot that had enough light.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Video Blog - Favorite Vicksburg Moment

Since the weather is turning a bit chilly I decided to dig out this clip from my video archives. Sort of a reminder as to what's ahead.

I stumbled upon this scene a couple years ago. I have to say this is one of my favorite Vicksburg moments. From what I gathered these two kids almost made it around the entire ice covered lake. The funniest part to me was their friend constantly yelling at them from shore telling them how stupid they were.

***You may need to nudge the play "bar" to get the clip started****

Monday, October 03, 2005

VOTE SUMP! Project Update


A lot has happened since the last SUMP! update. The most major change has been going back to the idea of VOTE SUMP! instead of SUPPORT SUMP! I went back to VOTE SUMP! because it was determined people could actually place their vote on the web site. Where as before you really couldn't vote for SUMP at all. That would have been anti-climatic.

Foldover yard sign designs are done (shown above). I found a local supplier of "U" shaped metal stakes perfect for signs like this.

The web site is designed. It only needs to be coded and have the domain name secured. RED 7 Studios (my employer) will be handling the site details. When I told them what I was planning they offered to fully support whatever I wanted to do. This included use of their large format printer and numerous other supplies free of charge. Very Kuhl.

The SUMP online video game will probably be a reality. I only need to illustrate the background and assorted elements. RED 7 Studios will also be doing the game coding. (Like I mentioned they're very supportive).

I'm nearly complete uploading images to the store. I've posted a bumper sticker and a shirt design above.

All in all things are going smoothly. The only big catch would be if the web site can't get done. I don't think that'll be an issue though.

I'm not sure when the "big rollout" will be. I'd like to shoot for the second week in October. Much depends on when the web site will be complete.

Stay tuned for more updates.