Los Angeles artist Wayne White surveys his latest creation — 15 feet high, leaning outward at crazy angles in all directions — then asks his assistants to cut the power on.
All over the cartoonish installation he calls “Big Lick Boom,” machinery clanks, lights flash, parts spin. One section, a sculpture of a steam locomotive that’s rearing up like a horse, turns its wheels, but they keep stopping and starting in a jerky motion rather than rolling smoothly.
“I think I can, I think I can,” White said as he watched.
Roanoke sculptor Ralph Eaton, one of White’s helpers, quipped, “It’s going up Christiansburg Mountain.”
Three days before the Taubman Museum of Art opened “Big Lick Boom” to the public, White, Eaton and Roanoke artists John Johnson and John Wiercioch were scrambling to put the finishing touches on the piece. They still had a lot of work to do.
“Wayne’s been here since May 1,” said Taubman Exhibitions and Galleries Manager Jim Hudson. He said it’s taken a core team of six people putting in straight 12-hour days to create this new artwork that takes a playful look at Roanoke’s history. The exhibit opened Friday.