A football field sized art gator in the Miami Bay rocked the art world in 2012, the brainchild of local artist Lloyd Goradesky. With an enormous head built on a barge and a mouth that opened with crane lifts 3 stories high, the body of the gator was made of a giant mosaic, each floating rectangle shaped tile art is 8 feet by 4 feet all linked together in a metal frame. There are 102 tiles that created a photo mosaic using 6,528 images that made up the 230-foot Gator. The giant lizard made headlines around the world.
The head made its debut in 2012 in the Winterfest Boat Parade, who helped sponsor the project. The 100 –foot-long head made of black tarp over a steel frame with metal serrated teeth cruised up the Intracoastal while Seminole Indians wrestled real alligators inside the mouth. The body followed in 2013 “because we ran out of time” Goradesky explains.
Who in the world would take on such a large crazy project? A visit to Goradesky’s home studio – filled with photos, collages, and a computer production studio that looks out to his backyard jungle oasis with a waterfall cascading from the roof of his house – explains most of it.
“I was born and raised in Miami Beach,” he says, “and I’ve always been interested in how people view artists and public art. Christo (the artist who created the Surrounded Islands in Miami in the 1980s) is a major inspiration to me and I’ve had conversations with him about how to approach large public projects and what is possible. Art Basel was rolling around every year and I wanted to do a project that would get noticed. My initial idea was to make the world’s largest floating photograph – an idea that came to me when I was driving on one of Miami’s bridges and looked down at the water – but then budget issues necessitated taking about ¾ of the size of it away. When I started cutting away sections at a large rectangle the gator shape emerged.”
The idea was the easy part, the actual execution took much longer.
“The gator took 4 years and a major part of the process is the building of excitement about it,” Lloyd Goradesky explains. “I also had to literally invent techniques to produce this – the SCALGio technique allowed me to print the photo mosaics onto a floating dense foam that is mostly air – a liquid cell technology – that wouldn’t disintegrate. Making the head on a barge merged industry and nature. Making the tile art was a form of how can I make this even more complex? I did that by taking thousands of photos, then assembling them into a mosaic that from a distance formed the gators body in great detail. By the time this was finished it took 600 people to get it together including crane and barge operators, bridge consultants, welders, printers, etc. The final budget was a million dollars, but it ended up generating 22 million in media ads and revenue for the sponsors. It takes 6 days to put it together and they travel on fifteen 55 -foot flatbed trucks. It takes 22 skilled laborers, 4 lifts, and 5 cranes. ”
Lloyd Goradesky also made it light up at night from underneath and took hundreds of shots of it from various vantage points.
When I ask him where the gator is now he points to a stack of 8- foot foam boards against his living room wall and says “Right there!” and proceeds to unwrap them for me to see the incredibly detailed mosaics and how amazingly good clean shape they are in considering these things were floating out in the water for days. They are truly stand alone art. The head is not at his house, it’s in pieces in a nearby storage yard, but he does have scraps of the metal and tarp that he made into neat little boxed collages.
Lloyd Goradesky says he has sold 22 of them and they did better when he actually raised the price from $5,000 to $12,000. One of them had a chunk taken out of the corner. “Shark bite” he says with laugh and then admits “Nah, the corner hit the bridge.” He has future plans for the gator involving inflatables but that’s all he is ready to reveal.
Video by Lloyd Goradesky
Gator in the Bay. The World’s Largest Alligator Explained
Not all Lloyd Goradesky’s work is huge and takes years. One afternoon while barbequing in his backyard he spotted a rainbow going right through a cloud formation. It was insanely beautiful and unusual so he grabbed his digital camera and fired off 100 shots in 10 minutes until the celestial formation dissipated. The resulting photos gave him enough material for a book and some large scale prints on various materials including aluminum and plastics that highlight the gorgeous array of colors he captured.
“That was just a rare moment I was able to grab so quickly,” he enthuses. “I even managed to get a bird flying across the rainbow cloud at the last minute. The other amazing thing is that when the images are inverted it becomes waves with rainbows in them.”
Photos of works by Lloyd Goradesky
Lloyd Goradesky has other types of work, such as the wall sized shadow art from 2014 made from “locally sourced garbage” he notes, that projects a landscape scene that tells a story of water flowing through the Everglades.
At The Box Gallery he has a current exhibition as part of The New American Patriot show. He is exhibiting some of the gator mosaic tile art – not the ones from the bay gator- but work that uses the same technique so viewers can see up close the tiny photos of panthers, flamingos, palm trees and yes, gators, that make up the whole.
“My work is really just nature based and I want people to appreciate how beautiful it is here. I also want most of the work to be free to view, just like nature is.”
See Lloyd Goradesky’s work at www.Lloydsite.com.