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Queens Chronicle

The idea behind the razzle dazzle truck

Artist Andrea Bergart gears up to paint her second cement truck

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Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013 10:30 am

It’s not your typical cement truck.

Last year Ridgewoood artist Andrea Bergart was biking by United Transit Mix in Brooklyn when the graffiti-covered facade caught her eye. Her boyfriend held her bike while she went inside to speak to the owner, Danny Mastronardi.

“Can I paint one of your trucks?” she asked him. She figured by the art outside his business that he must not be adverse to such a proposal. He said yes and Bergart got to work.

She was inspired by the documentary “Style Wars,” a film about graffiti-covered trains, and the “Razzle Dazzle” camouflage used by the British and U.S. navies on their ships during the world wars to confuse enemies, and had been brainstorming about art as a moving image.

Another inspiration was the time she spent living in Ghana’s biggest bead-trading community where, as part of Fulbright scholarship, she studied the history behind beads and where intricate patterns stem from.

“[The truck] reminds me of a giant bead,” she said.

She assembled a team and worked from 7 a.m. until about 6 p.m. painting the truck.

She slapped magnets on the rotating vessel, an idea she thought up after seeing magnetic advertisements on the sides of livery cabs, while the team painted the vehicle with splashes of bright green, yellow and pink. They then peeled off the spots and painted the negative black.

“I loved putting a feminine Lisa Frank pattern on a very masculine object,” Bergart said, referring to the popular rainbow-colored-animal school supply brand of the ’90s.

Next month she plans on tackling another cement tank.

The Queens Council on the Arts awarded Bergart a grant to make her idea a reality and ever since she has been busily experimenting with patterns.

“I want to create some sort of optical effect,” she said. “Not too much, but something fun.”

Taking inspiration from nail stick-ons and fabrics, Bergart draws patterns and rolls the paper like a paper towel tube. By rotating the pattern she is hoping to discover some sort of animation.

“It’s sort of a game,” she said. “I want to create a corkscrew or an undulating in and out of the pattern as the [cement tank] turns.”

She plans to experiment with colors fading in and out, as well as making the piece of construction machinery a little more “masculine,” she said with a laugh, adding that nevertheless she does love pink, and the hue will probably make an appearance on her next work.

As part of the grant Bergart will be documenting the production of her truck art as well as how the vehicle looks in its surroundings. She will ride with the driver on jobs as well as trail behind to capture the perspective of residents in the neighborhoods as the machinery passes through. Many of her friends see her leopard-print vehicle roaming the streets of Brooklyn and will send her pictures like an Eye Spy game.

Bergart also intends to have her masterpiece parked in front of the Queens Museum of Art for some time, as a complement to a typical art experience.

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