Customer Content – Streets Project
We’re always thrilled to see what our customers are doing with their photo passion. In this new column we’ll feature some of their work – so you can see what your peers are doing and to motivate you to maybe start a pet project of your own.
When you hear statistics such as 102 shooting days over 17 months, 11,000 photographs taken, and over 1,000 miles covered on bike, foot and vehicle, it may sound to you like a group effort, a multi-person project of some sort, perhaps a film.
These figures are the final estimation of the time put in and distance traveled to create a work of analog collage art by one individual. The goal was to locate each and every street name in the city of Denver, Colorado, take a photo of at least one street sign with the corresponding name and create a work of art based on all of them together in one piece.
Jacob Kedzierski, a Buffalo, New York born and Denver-based artist and photographer, did just that for his latest work of art entitled The Streets of Denver. Armed with a Canon PowerShot, Jacob traversed the streets of Denver for a year and a half and documented every street name in the entire city.
For a reference, there are approximately 2200 current names and 78 different neighborhoods. Just over 11,000 shots were taken in total and 4500 were selected for the final cut. The next step was to import every photo into Photoshop- the only time a computer was used in this project. From there he digitally cut each sign out, compiling them in various sizes onto a 16″ x 20″ canvas until he had 95 total sheets. Roughly 5000 signs were hand-cut over a 3-month period and then glued to gator board.
This was not done in haste- two months were spent laying out the design, tweaking and adjusting before a single photo was laid. Once he was satisfied- two long years after the very first sign was shot- the canvas was wiped clean and the final arrangement was executed on a 80″ x 48″ panel. Just the assembly alone- purposefully arranging and gluing- took 136 total hours over a 72 day period.
Jacob said this idea had been bouncing around in his head for about 5 years. The Denver idea was birthed after he completed his last project, The Streets of Manhattan, in 2010 while living in NYC. Having gone to college in Denver, he was familiar with the Denver Metro and decided to visit friends for a week away from the hustle of Manhattan. While on that trip, he snapped as many signs as he could but soon realized that it was easy to lose time snapping away and he was on vacation. That is when the idea struck him for his The Streets of Denver photo project.
The Streets of Manhattan contains every street name in Manhattan, approximately 2000 photographs.
At first, Jacob thought he’d travel to Denver every few months, shoot for a week and continue living in NYC. After crunching some numbers, he realized that it wasn’t a logical approach to achieve his vision. Committing to this project and bringing it to fruition was not a halfhearted attempt at a part-time job. As fate would have it, he was simultaneously becoming unhappy with living in New York City. As he tells it, “I achieved all my goals and felt I was just treading water and, creatively, I was struggling. I think it was just time to leave New York and breathe some life into my life, so-to-speak” he said with a laugh.
Approaching 40 years old and at a dead end and wanting more, the decision was made to relocate to Denver and go full steam to achieve this vision. “I accepted that I wasn’t going to make the same kind of money as I did in NYC and I was fine with that. I just wanted to change my scenery and start this project.” The move was made and his excitement for life was renewed in no small part by finally being able to immerse himself in creating not one but two projects– he is also working on a comedic feature film based on his experiences delivering furniture while attending college here in Denver.
Initially, Jacob estimated that it would take around a year to complete The Streets of Denver which turned out to be a pretty low estimate. As time went on, the scope of this project became overwhelming. In order to take back control, Jake recalls his next move: “I took a step back and broke the city down into neighborhoods and focused on that, chipping away every week until 17 months later I shot ever street name in Denver. The next step was printing the signs and cutting them out, I was actually looking forward to just sitting on the couch for a few months snipping away.”
It was more than a project; it became a way of life. Many more signs were used- stops, one ways, yields etc– that weren’t actual street names to help color in selected areas of the collage mosaic-style. Between working full time during the week and the project, Jake was determined to complete what is by far the largest and grandest in the series of street signs. This is his fifth and largest to date- prior to The Streets of Denver he completed two similar street sign projects in New York state (North Tonawanda and Manhattan) as well as Montpelier, Vermont and Lyle, Washington.
The Streets of Montpelier, Vermont 40×60 analog collage.
What you now have is an extensive vision made whole. It’s both a tribute to a great city and a labor of the love of documenting, re-imagining and reinterpreting. The project is a great nod to this burgeoning city and a part of the appeal is Denver natives can personally connect with what he is seeing. Another aspect is that the photos themselves have been arranged in a way to give a nod to Colorado’s state logo, the downtown Denver area and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Any Denver institution can display this work in their establishment with pride knowing that Denver has been represented well. Naturally, the next step is to share this work of art with the world: there is little doubt that Denver is becoming a very sought after place to live, work and visit.
The final result, The Streets of Denver, Colorado 48×80 analog collage.
Come see it at our Denver store through mid February!
Jacob Kedzierski is a graduate of The Art Institute of Denver and has an extensive resume in TV and film primarily in the editorial and camera departments. He has worked on a plethora of projects ranging from Emmy award-winning, socially aware documentaries, long-running cable television programs including Denver’s own Dog the Bounty Hunter all the way to major motion pictures. Today, he calls Denver his home and spends his free time skateboarding, writing screenplays for his own forthcoming film projects and exploring this great state. The arduous process of creating The Streets of Denver has been documented on Instagram under @thestreetsofdenver. His resume, IMDB and contact information can be found here.
Article written by Bryan Tallmadge