Fête de Faut’ | Art Space | John A. Barry And Bill Carmel | DanvilleSanRamon.com |

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About this blog: John Barry is the creator of trAction Painting, a process/performance genre in which he applies paint to large surfaces with bicycles, roller skates, and other wheeled conveyances. With Bill Carmel and other associates, he has bro...  (More)

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Fête de Faut’

Uploaded: Mar 13, 2016

Wheelchair party (I liked the alliteration and syllabic similarity of fête and faut’ in the French translation). My associates Bill Carmel, Barbara Johnson, and Lisa Nicolini showed up at my house on 2/21 with food and drink in hand and a burning desire to paint with the wheelchair. At that point I had laid down 4-5 layers of paint on a 9 x 12-foot canvas with the chair. The leisurely pace at which I’d worked over several days enabled each layer to dry, showing the wheel patterns of each pass distinctly. Today, three people had a couple of hours to try their hands at cranking the wheels’ rails.

Before the neophytes started, I gave them a little tutorial, emphasizing safety aspects and demonstrating possible techniques, such as holding one wheel in place as a pivot and creating a circle with the other. I suggested doing wheelies, but no one wanted to go there. With that, they were ready to roll.

Bill was first, depositing blue and white with the rear wheels. In concert with the lethargically flowing hues, his pace was slow and methodical. (A less viscous paint mix would have required faster wheeling to keep up with the accelerated pulse of paint onto the wheels and resulting in greater wheel-spinning.)

I quickly saw an error I’d made: choosing half-gallon paint bottles. The bottles’ handles fit handily over the chair push handles. But the bottles were too wide, necessitating too much paint in the container and too much left over in the slim space beneath the tube’s exit from the bottle (paint feeds from the bottle through tubes to the wheel). Slim bike bottles would be the solution in the future.

Lisa was next, with yellow and purple. At least we’d hoped for purple after dumping red into the blue bottle. Initially red continued to flow, followed by concurrent trails of red and blue, with an eventual blend into purple. Barbara finished the painting with light pastel red and orange.

With no drying time and so many colors in the mix, we risked making mud if we continued, so we stopped short of Mudville. Because we’d gone from colors to colors so quickly, we ended up with less noticeable wheel tracks. Parts of the painting looked almost brushed—a new effect in my experience with this art form. Because of limited work space, we hadn’t been able to cover the canvas all the way to the edges, so I trimmed it down to approximately 7 x 10.

In the next Faut’ fête, we’ll start with a slightly smaller canvas and spend more time watching paint dry.
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Posted by Barbara, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 13, 2016 at 12:31 pm

This was a great experience:great activity for those preferring to SIT rather than SKATE. This opens the door to many more levels of participation, by those who desire to express their creative inner-voice in an "oh, so non-traditional way"! Well done to John B! Bill C! Lisa N! and moi......

Posted by Robert, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 13, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Wheelchairs are actually not fun or amusing for most people that are bound to them for life due a catastrophic injury. Sorry. But you may want to find another gimmick.

Posted by JAB, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 13, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Not a gimmick at all. In fact, we are hoping to work with disability advocates at some point to bring trAction Painting to those who cannot roll on bikes, skates, etc. Wheelchairs could be just the vehicle

Posted by Robert, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 13, 2016 at 8:21 pm

Disability advocates ? Who isn't an advocate for disabled persons ?

Sorry but I think your using this 'vehicle' is in extremely bad taste. Specifically the photos above of able persons having a great time using wheelchairs as a devise to make 'art.' Seriously. Find another 'vehicle' or just create something with your own working limbs.

Just my opinion. Sorry if this is offensive to you.

Posted by JAB, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 13, 2016 at 8:33 pm

No offense taken. You're entitled to your opinion.

Posted by Robert, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 13, 2016 at 8:49 pm


You may want to reconsider another title. I'm rather certain being in a wheelchair is no 'party.'

Posted by Parker, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 18, 2016 at 10:57 am


I'm in a wheelchair. Paralyzed from the chest down. Probably will never walk again. I'm not offended by this. In fact if I was invited to this party and they asked me to roll on the canvas with a glass of wine I would be so into it. Society has to draw the line somewhere when it comes to being moral and appropriate and this isn't even close. Painting with dead fetuses from an abortion clinic dumpster. I'd say that is insensitive and crossing the line. Don't be such a bump a log. Save your judgement for things that are truly offensive.


Posted by JAB, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 18, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Thanks, Parker. I'll be in touch.

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