When an expert in precast concrete and an award-winning sculptor with a passion for cars pool their talents, amazing things can happen.

The sculptor, Tj Aitken, has worked in many facets of the auto industry, designing cars in Detroit. Today, he uses his art to record the drama of the car-centric culture in America and the impact of the auto on society. The precaster, David Eerdmans of Hard Topix Precast, Jenison, Mich., specializes in custom residential and commercial countertops, sinks, fireplaces, and outdoor cooking surfaces. In addition to concocting his own polymer-modified concrete mixes, he also experiments with colors and finishes that are beyond the norm.

"57 Descending," on display at the
Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Another view of the sculpture, which is
made from sculpted foam and GFRC
attached to a steel armature.

A few years ago, Aitken paid a visit to Eerdmans' showroom. "When I walked in and saw the wild designs in the floor and the massive cast conference table, with beautiful inlayed stone and pattern work, I knew I was in the right place," he says. "I was stunned by the finish quality and fidelity possible in the modern cement formulas." Since then, the pair has worked together on all types of projects. Their latest collaboration is a 14-foot-tall auto-themed sculpture for the Grand Rapids, Mich., 2010 ArtPrize competition. Part arts festival, part social experiment, this international contest is decided solely by public vote.

For last year's ArtPrize, a sculpture Aitken created using concrete was voted into the top 25. This year's piece, named "57 Descending," is even more complex and took approximately 2,400 man-hours to complete, says Aitken. The modern-art composition is made from Eerdmans' formula for lightweight glass-fiber reinforced concrete. Aitken designed a steel armature system onto which he attached sculpted structural foam laminated with a skin of GFRC. He devised a clever attachment system that allows him to disassemble the components for easier transport, since the piece will be going on the road for display across the country. The sculpture's rustlike patina was created using a combination of acid and water-based stains.

For more information about the sculpture and to see a video and additional photos of the finished piece, visit www.sculpturebytj.com.

Hard Topix
Jenison, MI

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