(click each title below to read entire article and to toggle the open and close feature)
By Suzanna Bowling
March 12, 2018
Head on down the The Sheen Center, 18 Bleeker Street for The Signature Project, one of the most unique and exhilarating art display’s and performance’s I have seen. This show will leave you uplifted, in awe and wanting to add your signature to the 76-foot by 36-foot mural, layered with hidden secrets. Patrick Dunning conceived of The Signature Project in 1992. His goal is “to create a new art form, a digital tapestry that can be completed only by collaborating with over one million people.”
An enormous artwork 3 stories tall, painted not with brush strokes but with signatures, names signed by hundreds of thousands of people in a spectrum of colors. This is the heart of The Signature Project. Over a million people will form the massive image, people with stories to share. Patrick Dunning brings these stories to life in a live multimedia performance.
The Signature Project is more than just one thing. This Irish-American artist tours the U.S. and the world telling his story. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, he now lives in Portland, Oregon. Under the direction of Eric Paul Vitale, the ensemble of actors, dancers and musicians bring his vision alive in a way you have to experience to understand.
Everyone has a spark of creativity within them, but Patrick Dunning is a visionary emerged in hurricane of inventive originality. The painting itself is comprised of individual signatures, but underneath morse code, ultra violet light, x-ray phosphorescent paint and music are there to be unearthed. This monumental project has become a powerful live performance, and is a combination of theater, performance art, visual arts, music, mathematics, science, technology, and cultural diversity. Each person’s colored signature on canvas is like a stitch in a tapestry that includes images of the earth, moon, sun, stars, and galaxy. The sun’s center has a radiating white heart even brighter than the sun. It’s a cosmic landscape. There’s even a Theremin hidden inside. The show evokes a plethora of emotions and by the end you feel honored to become a part of this piece. Already over 300,000 people have become the fabric of this monumental art work. The painting and the play is constantly changing and evolving, so the truth of the story also changes.
Suzanna Bowling co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C.
By Leonard Jacobs
March 16, 2018
Move over Sunday in the Park with George. There are incalculable ways to harness the power and presence of pure visual art with the arresting and urgent immediacy of performance. Add in a palpable sense of humanitarianism and social justice and you will understand the work of Patrick Dunning, whose stunning The Signature Project runs through March 25 at the Sheen Center (18 Bleecker St.)
The project, Dunning told me, began in 1992, when he stepped away from a rapidly rising career as a painter to create a single painting featuring more than one million signatures of ordinary individuals from all around the world. The Signature Project, as a performance, has a mixture of art, music and dance as it retraces Dunning’s quest to unite millions of strangers within a single work of art. And, of course, there are stories to tell behind those signatures, and secrets to unfold.
I asked Dunning to provide me with his bio — some contextualizing — and he demonstrated precisely the kind of heart, whimsy and seriousness of intent that you might imagine:
I’m Irish, an artist, but more importantly, I’m from Dublin, Ireland. It’s the fastest growing city in the world. You see, every day it’s doublin’. Ba-boom! Get it? Dublin. Traveling is in my DNA...
This year will be my 78th drive across the US. I have a passion for science and one day I’m hoping that we have the ability to defy the restrictions of the speed of light and fly at will to distant galaxies in the blink of an eye. The wonders of what must be out there.
Leonard Jacobs is Founder and Executive Editor of The Clyde Fitch Report, and CEO of Clyde Fitch, LLC, a media company that produces and publishes opinion and reporting at the crossroads of arts and politics.
by Zack Calhoon
March 5th, 2018
The core of THE SIGNATURE PROJECT, directed by Eric Paul Vitale, is a huge 76 ft. x 36 ft. mural layered with hidden secrets. For the past 22 years a live performance has toured the United States bringing the mural to life, with artist Patrick Dunning ingeniously weaving stories and images in the great tradition of Irish artists. Now, this play with music and dance comes to New York for its Off-Broadway premiere. A unique, exhilarating tapestry blending art and technology, THE SIGNATURE PROJECT offers the opportunity for the audience to join over 300,000 people whose signatures already comprise the fabric of this monumental art work. The painting and the play are constantly changing and evolving as people contribute their own signature and story to the larger art work, adding perspectives and ideas which make the world so special and wonderful, beyond imagination. Creator Patrick Dunning is from Dublin, Ireland and now lives in Portland, Oregon.
When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?
When I was growing up in Dublin, Ireland, around the age of 13 or 14 as I was becoming aware of some persistent urge inside me to make "stuff." I didn't really know why or what do about it, but I found myself hammering thousands and thousands of nails into wood boards night after night. Soon, shapes began to form on those boards and I became lost in their emerging patterns. At that point I became aware of the creative process and decided to follow that instinct. Needless to say, the constant hammering of nails soon had my family banishing me out of earshot to my grandmother's coal shed 3 blocks away. It didn't bother her because she was deaf.
Tell me about THE SIGNATURE PROJECT. How do you feel it’s going? What do you love most about the show?
First of all, it's an artwork in progress. It's a painting I'm creating by collaborating with over one million people. Each person’s colored signature on canvas is like one stitch in a tapestry. That tapestry is an image of the earth, moon, sun, stars, and galaxy. The sun's center has a radiating white heart even brighter than the sun. It's a cosmic landscape and my attempt to paint an image that says everything. It has many different layers that are only revealed by looking at the artwork in different ways. Under ultraviolet light it shows another image; when x-rayed more images. Photograph it with an infrared camera and it opens another window into the work. It's also performance and theatre. The artwork is full of interaction and this interaction is revealed on stage through art, voice, dance, projection and live music. There's even a Theremin hidden inside.
It's exciting to see it coming together in a New York theatre with director/producer, Eric P. Vitale, supporting actors, musicians, projection specialists, audio engineers. Did I mention lawyers and accountants?
I love the interaction with the audience when they add their signatures to the work. It's fascinating meeting people and hearing their stories. THE SIGNATURE PROJECT offers me countless ways to create images and elements that find their way into either the performance or the painting itself. There's no end to the possibilities for me.
What kind of writing inspires you?
When you read a sentence that envelops you in a sensory moment so that you must reread it over and over just to take delight in its poetic perfection. One of my favorite books is Faith is the Hunter by Ernest K. Gann. He writes of his life as an aviator and the words so beautifully rise from the pages that you hear the wind rushing by and feel the comforting vibration of the engines through the pages.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your work as an artist thus far?
Visually, I'm influenced by many artists and designers but the biggest overall influence for me in the last few years has been listening to blues music. It's such a deep form of expression that I incorporated it into my work about 15 years ago when I started to play blues guitar. Over the years, I've driven across the united states, coast to coast, 77 times to perform in different cities and towns. As I've traveled, I've recorded these trips on camera and video and, in my show, I project some of those journeys on screen as I play live blues on top. The landscape of the USA and the blues music is such a perfect match.
What else are you working on right now?
Well, I'm working on my upcoming Off-Broadway shows in March at the Sheen Center on Bleecker Street. The amount of rehearsal and preparation is all consuming. Another thing I'm working on is with tape balls that I make from my used Gaffer’s tape. After my shows I collect the tape but I don't throw it out. It gets turned into small balls. I've over a thousand of them and they're black, about the size of a golf ball. The idea is to create a stop motion animation sequence on a grey floor that looks like raindrops hitting a still pond surface that then radiating out in circles. It would only be about 20 seconds of animation but I've already written the music for it. It's very relaxing and peaceful, as rainy days can be.
by BWW News Desk
Mar. 9, 2018
THE SIGNATURE PROJECT, a multi-sensory theatrical experience currently in previews, is set to open this Sunday, March 11th at the Sheen Center (18 Bleecker Street).
The core of THE SIGNATURE PROJECT is a huge 76 ft. x 36 ft. mural layered with hidden secrets. For the past 22 years a live performance has toured the United States bringing the mural to life, with artist Patrick Dunning ingeniously weaving stories and images in the great tradition of Irish artists. Now, this play with music and dance comes to New York for its Off-Broadway premiere. A unique, exhilarating tapestry blending art and technology, THE SIGNATURE PROJECT offers the opportunity for the audience to join over 300,000 people whose signatures already comprise the fabric of this monumental art work. The painting and the play are constantly changing and evolving as people contribute their own signature and story to the larger art work, adding perspectives and ideas which make the world so special and wonderful, beyond imagination. Creator Patrick Dunning hails from Dublin, Ireland and now lives in Portland, Oregon.
Director Eric Paul Vitale joined the project after attending a one-night-only presentation of Patrick Dunning's THE SIGNATURE PROJECT on tour. It was immediately after that event that the two began a collaboration to re-conceive the production as an entirely theatrical evening with the addition of 360-degree projections, live jazz, Irish dancers, and choreography by two-time National Ballroom Champion, Melissa Maricich. The production recently announced that a different Irish dancer is scheduled to make a special guest appearance at each performance in a segment choreographed by Elise Wright of the Aherne Sheehan School of Irish Dance.