Dream Big (computer generated draft)

Pete at work on the mosaic – Photo by Paul L. Newby II, Grand Rapids Press

Configuring a cube – Photo by Paul L. Newby II, Grand Rapids Press

Close to completion – Photo by Paul L. Newby II, Grand Rapids Press

On display at ArtPrize – Photo by Tori Jo, Flickr

Technicals:
The mosaic is made of 4,242 officially licensed Rubik’s Cubes. It measures 19′ x 8’6″ x 2.25″ (5.8m x 2.6m x 5.7cm ). It weighs roughly 1000 pounds (454kg). Each cube has been “reversed solved” or twisted so that one of the faces maps it’s nine stickers into the total image, 38,178 stickers total. The construction process took a little over 40 hours and the final installation to about five and a half hours with 6 volunteers helping. The cubes were rented through the You Can Do The Cube organization. The mosaic was on display during the 2010 ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan USA from September 22nd to October 10th. There were roughly 30,000 people who came to view the mosaic during that time. “Dream Big” placed in the top 50 out of 1,700+ entries. The mosaic was left intact for a month after the competition in an attempt to sell it. The pending sale did not materialize and the mosaic was disassembled in late November and the cubes were shipped back to their originating points.

Costs:
The cubes themselves were rented for roughly $8,000 however the total cost of the project was approximately $9,000. A private donation was made for $4,000 and fundraising through special events and Kickstarter.com helped to raise the remainder.

About the Artist:
Pete Fecteau is a designer by day. He attended Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan and attained his BFA in Digital Media Design in 2007. His design portfolio can be seen at http://buttonpresser.com. He mainly works as an interactive designer and helps build online and mobile experiences. Pete also loves illustration, painting, and sculpture and finds time between work to create more traditional art aside for his Rubik’s Cube mosaics. His wife Caitlin and he were married on August 27th, 2011 in Brighton, Michigan they both relocated to San Francisco in January, 2011 were Pete had been awarded a fellowship with Code for America.

Inspiration for “Dream Big”:
Upon graduating college, Fecteau accepted a position as design integrator at Spout.com, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Spout.com was later sold and the group became Pomegranite Studios. Pomegranite Studios, owned by Rick Devos (son of Amway co-founder Dick Devos), created ArtPrize, the world’s largest art competition. ArtPrize’s inaugural year in 2009 drew 1,262 artists and Fecteau, having history with the organization and a deep-seeded interest in art decided to volunteer his time helping with registration of voters and artists. Fecteau knew that he would want to compete in the 2010 competition but was failing to find a competitive concept. During the time he was volunteering, Fecteau went home to sleep and had a dream where he was using Rubik’s Cube to create something. Pete had been solving the Rubik’s Cube as a hobby since his time at Spout.com. Upon waking up, Fecteau set to document the idea and brainstorm other areas of the concept to make it well-rounded.

Collaboration:
As with any project of this size and scope, Fecteau required help from a number of different organizations and individuals. One of the first collaborations was with The Student Advancement Foundation. Fecteau was seeking advice on how to integrate his project into the Grand Rapids Public School system and Susan Heartwell, Executive Director of the foundation (and wife of Grand Rapids mayor George Heartwell) offered advice, networking and later, legal help through fiduciary support. Soon to follow was Cooley Law School, a student organization within the school helped Fecteau legitimize his fundraising efforts through helping him attain a 501c3 tax license. This tax license was never fully completed due to the fiduciary support from The Student Advancement Foundation. At this time a close friend of Fecteau’s, Mia Klavon, offered her expertise in art administration and fundraising and she quickly took over the efforts of fundraising and grant writing. One of the most important collaborations happened with You Can Do The Rubik’s Cube (YCDTRC), an organization run by Seven Towns who manages the Rubik’s Cube brand. YCDTRC is a educational program that provides Rubik’s Cube-related educational kits to teachers. YCDTRC informed Pete that due to licensing, purchasing off-brand cubes from Asia (as was his initial plan) would not be legal. They offered to rent Fecteau the cubes he required using the money that had been raised. Fecteau found a venue that had enough space to display the massive mosaic at First Park Congregational Church. The church also allowed Fecteau the use of a small room behind the stage were the mosaic would be installed as a studio where he could work on the construction. Another individual, Sam Klee, a young documentary film maker was connected with Fecteau. Klee was filming a documentary that followed artists through the ArtPrize competition. Fecteau was one of his subjects. As the cubes were delivered, Fecteau enlisted his friends to help with unpacking each cube. Later after the construction was completed many of his friends returned to help with the installation. Klee filmed a time-elapse video of the installation and edited it for use during the competition. It help the public understand details of the mosaic that might not have been apparent at first. During the competition, church parishioners volunteered their time to help control the crowd and answer questions. In addition to the mosaic, four other artists displayed their works in the church’s hall.

Outcome:
Fecteau’s “Dream Big” placed in the top 50 out of 1,700+ pieces entered. There was substantial buzz around the piece during the competition due in part to the television interviews and front-page newspaper articles regarding it. The public had trouble finding the venue and many maximized their time by visiting some of the larger venues that housed more artists. Despite these setbacks, the church estimated that 30,000 people came to visit the work, drawing more traffic than one of the major exhibition venues. The voting process, which was mainly text-message driven, experienced technical glitches and an undetermined percent of votes were lost. After the competition there was limited interest from private parties in the purchase of the mosaic. One such party was in talks with Fecteau for nearly eight months before the deal failed to be finalized. In September of 2011 an image of Fecteau working on the construction of the mosaic became popular on the internet and a resurgence of interest in the piece was reflected in the millions of views and traffic to his artwork website petefecteau.com.

Parallel Work:
Fecteau continues to work with YCDTRC as a consultant. He has helped create a “mosaic builder’s guide book” which teaches school children how to create a mosaic using one of the templates he also created. Fecteau also designed custom mosaics which YCDTRC facilitated school children in building for The Today Show and The Bay Area Science Festival.