'Arty' doesn't bite, but he's no Terror-dactyl, either
Christine Martell wanted a dinosaur in her life ever since 1983, when she lived in central Texas on property that had fossils. Nearly 30 years later, Martell, the vice chairwoman of the Hillsboro Arts & Culture Council, hatched a brilliant idea.
With the advent of the Hillsboro Arts Month, I thought the time had come to have one what better to roam around Hillsboro to promote the arts? she asked.
Martell has a dinosaur exhibit downstairs this month at the Glenn & Viola Walters Cultural Arts Center. It doesnt feature terrifying velociraptors that can open doors, irresponsible scientists who make crazy cloning decisions over the course of a four-movie blockbuster franchise or even Jeff Goldblum.
But Martell has the next best thing: a larger-than-life robotic dinosaur that serves as an advocate for the arts. Step aside, Indominus Rex, and enter Artosaur. Wherever he is, people can bet cool things are about to happen.
Arty finds the art, said Martell. He advocates for creative expression in all forms, he gets out where people are gathering and he makes art touchable and interactive.
Welcome, in other words, to Jurassic Art.
The project began in May, and Martell received some help from a dedicated team specializing in engineering and robotics.
I asked my husband Mark for help. Im like the overlord of art and hes the overlord of engineering, she said. Weve never done an art project together, so its satisfying when our skill sets come together to create something.
Some additional help came in the form of four students from Glencoe High Schools Shockwave Robotics team Bronwyn Grover, Nick Ogden, Luke South and Claire Edington who connected with Mark Walker through their coach, Chris Steiner.
Its been a great collaboration. The kids have never sculpted before, said Martell. And finding out the dimensions of everything, its been an amazing group project.
For Arty it all started with a quarter-mile of baling wire, which acts as his skeletal structure. It took the team two months to weld everything together, which proved to be challenging, especially during the heat wave of the summer. His teeth, heart and toenails were all 3D-printed by Ogden, and his skin is made of four layers of duct tape. After running some skin tests, he was ready for the purple and green shades of paint.
We were looking at colors that looked similar, but also contrasted, said Grover. Also, it looks pretty in the sunlight.
But during Artys earlier stages, he was far from getting great big hugs and being a part of a happy family. In fact, to some kids, he looked more like a Terror-dactyl.
When he was painted pitch black and had white teeth, kids ran away crying, said Martell. But now they love him. We hear kids screaming from a block away when hes riding in his trailer to events.
We went to one event and I saw a little girl I didnt even know in front of Arty telling a group of people his story, said Walker.
Arty consistently stomps his way into events to make celebrity appearances and promote art, but hes still a project in progress. During his down time he stays in a tent at Martells. After most events Arty attends, team members re-engineer and improve him, which can be difficult considering you cant just Google how to build a dinosaur.
Evolution hasnt stopped for Arty. The team is currently trying to make him animatronic the technique of making and operating lifelike robots. They succeeded earlier, but according to Martell, little boys cant resist slapping the dinosaur in the face.
Still, Arty doesnt bite ...yet.
Were working on getting his head to move up, down, left and right and eventually, hell be able to chomp, said Walker.
But for now, Arty is far from a Tyrannosaurus wreck. He has his own website, artosaur.com, and boasts a nice following on his Facebook and Twitter profiles.
Were able to promote a lot with him, he helps get art shows attention, and when people see him, they get excited they stick around to get invested in art, said Martell.