Unsung Heroes of the Ox

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The response we’ve received towards the new Year of the Ox on Parade has been overwhelmingly positive. The community has shown their excitement by taking selfies with the Oxen, creating a family outing to find them all, and even making it a part of their routes while working out. Of course, we wouldn’t be here without the artists that helped bring this idea to life. In addition to the designers and painters we’ve already highlighted in other stories, there was another small team of artists who worked for weeks fiberglassing, sanding,  patching and doing a lot of the heavy lifting to prepare these Ox forms to bring these pieces to life. As we continue the celebration, we wanted to highlight some of these unsung heroes.

First, the Ox forms. Lacey Bryant, the lead carver for the Chinese New Year Parade and whom we’ve previously featured, hand-carved each of the 11 oxen. Utilizing various tools, she utilized her years of experience and took large styrofoam pieces to a whole new level, chiseling them into shape.

From there the ox needed to be sanded and prepped for fiberglassing. “We did an initial layer of fiberglass, trying to work with larger swatches of the material to avoid a patchwork of seams,” said Rachel Groat, Ox Fabrication Supervisor.  “Once the entire styrofoam surface was covered, we would mix batches of resin and coat that onto the fiberglass. That would take a day or two to cure, then we would lightly sand any bubbles, seams, or other imperfections.” 

Once the Ox was sanded for a second time, another layer of fiberglass and resin was applied. After that set, there was a week-long process of sanding, filling any gaps, holes, or rough areas, and sanding again. Once it was smooth, the team would coat the Ox with a primer paint layer and then check again for imperfections that needed to be fixed. If there were more adjustments, the Ox would go back to the sander each time. Only when the ox was perfectly smooth would each statue be ready for the painting to begin.

With the new approach to this year’s celebration, some team members were working in a new capacity. “I’ve been working on Chinese New Year floats for the last two years. I really enjoy all the elements of the process of building floats and look forward to seeing how everything comes together,” said Rick Lucey, Ox Fabrication team member. “This year I helped with the building of the physical Southwest Airlines float but also did some sanding, patching, pre-painting, and final resin on some of the Ox sculptures. I had not done as much prop work so that was a bit new for me in some ways. It took a little getting used to but I got into the rhythm of things. I’m excited that in these not-so-easy times, we got to connect and work on the Chinese New Year.” 

When asked what it was like to contribute to the Chinese New Year celebration in this way, Rachel shared with us, “it felt really different, both more collaborative because we were all working on the same project at the same time, and also more individualized since we really had no room for error. Because the process took a few weeks for each ox, we had to really be on top of making sure there was a schedule for each step and really had to stick to deadlines. It was exciting to learn a new skill and work with new materials. I hope we get to do this each year because it was such a beautiful thing to watch come to life. It was challenging to learn the new materials, but also that was exciting too. It also felt challenging to be such a small crew and not be able to bring any additional folks on to help out.”

We’re grateful for these artists and their dedication to excellence. The end results were amazing and we hope we’ll be able to continue this new tradition for years to come.

Artist Bios

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Rachel Groat is a production designer and props master as an active part of the bay area film community since 2013, first starting out with student projects and working her way up to designing anything she dreams of, from films and shorts to larger corporate commercials. She loves a good challenge, many times taking on projects back to back to keep her busy and feed her hunger and passion for the creative arts. Highlights of her career so far include creating Christmas in August, designing a one-shot/one-take proposal video in an empty warehouse, and creating a series of dream-like sequences involving puppets for a short film. Rachel loves being a part of the local film community and creating beautiful art with friends and family. 

She grew up in the bay area and has a lifetime experience of arts and crafts to pull from, being the daughter of a creative and crafty mom and a fabricator and painter dad. Before working in film or fabricating for a living, Rachel’s time was filled with photography, painting, and working as a sign artist for many years.

When not busy on a set, she can be found building parade floats in San Francisco, doing everything from large scale fabrication to art installation and painting for the various large parades including Chinese New Year and Pride as well as smaller parades, such as for the Warriors, Italian Heritage and Carnival.

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Rick Lucey is San Francisco-based creator/illustrator/cartoonist. He has worked in different types of visual media from video games to TV broadcasting as both a staff artist and a contractor at various companies. Lately, Rick has been working at The Parade Guys helping to

created floats and props for SF Bay area events such as the Chinese New Year’s Parade, etc. Some of his personal projects have been working on a comic book DR DEATH VON TIKI, creating many monsters every Monday along with writing short horror stories. On off days he is looking for the answers to the universal mysteries and wonders why the Mothman does not return his calls. You can find his small creative universe here: http://www.drawrick.com/start.html

Or just Google Rick Lucey to find those answers to puzzling questions you may have about him.