The Honoured Walleye

Articles on manhole covers keep on popping-up. More and more people are noticing the design underfoot as they walk their city streets. 

Rob Turner writes on the subject of cities much smaller projects that make a big impact in his “Cover Art” article.

“As a visitor to a new city I’m always intrigued to discover and surprised by fantastic cast-iron works of art—they delight me.” 

This article lists wonderful photos of "manhole covers that left their mark in New York City". 

Andy Sturdevant lists stunning manhole cover designs in Minneapolis in his article “Minneapolis' sense of itself revealed in artist-designed manhole covers.” Andy helps us discover the reason for the covers by describing them and their location in Minneapolis. Andy directs us to a few of Kate Burke’s manhole cover designs. 

I received a wonderful email with a nice surprise this week, a sequence of photos showing the steps in the creation of Kate’s walleye manhole cover design. 

Have you ever wondered why you didn’t bring that darn camera with you? Kate wished she had a camera to document her first experience at the foundry eight inches deep in black sand staring at the wheel-a-matic sandblaster. 

We can’t turn back time and document those fantastic moments of creation, but we can remember them as did Kate.

It was a sandblasting booth that had a huge turntable inside a metal box. As I stood in the sand, the guys opened the door to the first cast manhole cover, which was the walleye. As the turntable rotated the silhouette of the cover [emerged] out of the darkness. It was glowing red in the center as they had just cast it and it was still hot. It was jaw-dropping. 

Below is Kate Burke's production process for the Walleye manhole cover for Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis: 

© 2016 Kate Burke, a quick sketch to help with the design process

© 2016 Kate Burke, a quick sketch to help with the design process

© 2016 Kate Burke, the sketch created for the carving of the design

© 2016 Kate Burke, the sketch created for the carving of the design

© 2016 Kate Burke, the actual drawing used to cut the design—many copies were made to prevent the loss of image detail when transferring the drawing 

© 2016 Kate Burke, the actual drawing used to cut the design—many copies were made to prevent the loss of image detail when transferring the drawing 

© 2016 Kate Burke, these recent photos of the finished cut pattern show its resilience after two dozen casts. It held up well and is still beautiful 

© 2016 Kate Burke, these recent photos of the finished cut pattern show its resilience after two dozen casts. It held up well and is still beautiful 

© 2016 Kate Burke, altered photo of the original photo by Will Crain, manhole cover installed at Nicollet Mall

© 2016 Kate Burke, altered photo of the original photo by Will Crain, manhole cover installed at Nicollet Mall

© 2016 Kate Burke, a rubbing from the original pattern above to create prints

© 2016 Kate Burke, a rubbing from the original pattern above to create prints


Need to get back to work and finish eleven new volumes of City Shields from my trip back to Canada. My residence and installation at Ming Studios will come soon enough.

In the meantime, go for a walk and discover your city.

© 2016 Kate Burke, installed Walleye manhole cover at Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, Minnesota

© 2016 Kate Burke, installed Walleye manhole cover at Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Hail Minnesota!

I was downtown Ottawa, to deliver my volumes of City Shields to the National Gallery of Canada this summer when I noticed a manhole cover with a toilet in its design on Sussex Drive.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, this photo is an Ottawa maintenance frame S25 and toilet logo cover S24

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, this photo is an Ottawa maintenance frame S25 and toilet logo cover S24

Ever wonder what or why sewer covers have certain designs like a toilet? I wonder as well! 

The city of Ottawa, Ontario, has several manhole covers with a fish design. Evan Thornton in his article The Sign Of The Fish: Ottawa Sewer Grates of December 2009 found that Ottawa, lets its residents figure out the significance of the decorated storm sewer drains for themselves.

I guess we will not easily have an answer to our question.


When one has access to the artist who designs the covers for a city, we can get an answer to the reason behind the designs?

Kate Burke designed manhole covers for the City of Minneapolis back in 1992. These manhole covers were part of 75 cast iron manhole covers created as one of seven other art projects for the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Kate explains the development of Hail Minnesota installed before computers and digital cameras!  

I worked with Craig Amundson from BRW Architects to evolve the ideas and designs.  As the first ones he chose not only had a natural theme but were, also, state symbols. I evolved further designs from there. I designed for the state bird, tree, flower, grain, etc. In the end I titled the project with the state motto, “Hail Minnesota”.
It took at least a month to create each hand cut pattern. I evolved a unique technique of layering chip board to create detail and to guarantee a flat surface for a safe footfall. There are eleven different designs with each pattern cast seven times.

The City of Minneapolis is redeveloping Nicollet Mall, the location of Kate Burke’s designed manhole covers. Architect James Corner hired for the redesign, is the architec who designed the High Line, a beloved project in NYC. To prepare for this complete redevelopment the city assessed and archived the eight artworks originally installed. The manhole covers rated well and people enjoy them. Their condition and maintenance care are easy.

To view these fantastic cover designs in person, one will have to wait for the covers to be removed from storage and reinstalled when the Mall is rededicated in the future. Millions of people pass over Nicollet Mall yearly, but ME, Louise, never knew of them when I visited Minneapolis, two years ago. It is worthwhile to call a city before visiting and asking questions on the project you might be doing.

Take a look at these stupéfiant (amazing) manhole covers!

© 2016 photos by Will Crain, graphics by Michelle Ward,  Hail Minnesota  design by Kate Burke—image 1 APPLES and detail; image 2 NORWAY PINE and detail; image 3 TIMBER WOLF and detail; image 4 LOON and detail

© 2016 photos by Will Crain, graphics by Michelle Ward, Hail Minnesota design by Kate Burke—image 1 APPLES and detail; image 2 NORWAY PINE and detail; image 3 TIMBER WOLF and detail; image 4 LOON and detail

© 2016 photos by Will Crain, graphics by Michelle Ward,  Hail Minnesota  design by Kate Burke—image 1 WILD RICE and detail; image 2 WHEAT and detail; image 3 CORN and detail; image 4 LADY SLIPPER and detail

© 2016 photos by Will Crain, graphics by Michelle Ward, Hail Minnesota design by Kate Burke—image 1 WILD RICE and detail; image 2 WHEAT and detail; image 3 CORN and detail; image 4 LADY SLIPPER and detail

© 2016 photos by Will Crain, graphics by Michelle Ward,  Hail Minnesota  design by Kate Burke—image 1 OATS and detail; image 2 WALLEYE and detail; 4 NORTHERN PIKE and detail

© 2016 photos by Will Crain, graphics by Michelle Ward, Hail Minnesota design by Kate Burke—image 1 OATS and detail; image 2 WALLEYE and detail; 4 NORTHERN PIKE and detail


Last April, I introduced large sized artists’ books, included in these posts was Alex Appella’s book, The János Book

This year, Alex had a lovely experience publishing her book as a Spanish independent trade edition in Argentina. The János Letter / Después la carta sells for the low price of $39.99. The János Book is available on Amazon, with good reviews. Enjoy a free PDF of this book!


Are you getting ready for Christmas? Are you looking for beautiful and unique decorative boxes to offer someone special? Look no further. My decorative boxes are a great gift for anyone who loves to store small items, special trinkets, keepsakes or jewelry.

For the purchase of my hand made boxes visit my website or email me directly.

Have a great week!

Congratulations!

This week, I’m sending my congratulations to Cathryn Miller and Thomas Parker Williams for their participation in the Pop-Up Now II exhibition on view through December 17 at 23 Sandy Gallery. 

Pop-Up Now II, is a juried exhibition of pop-up and movable artists’ books that pop-up, move, slide, twirl, whirl, and even light up.

Cathryn submitted her book entitled I Love My Love. The book is just beautiful!!

© 2016 Cathry Miller

© 2016 Cathry Miller

Thomas, surprises us all with a fantastic sculpture in paper and steel, entitled Spiral Dome. This is worth a closer view online.

© 2016 Thomas Parker Williams

© 2016 Thomas Parker Williams


It’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole when researching “stuff” on the internet! Obsessed with the Incessant Journey lately—for the last 16 years. I found articles on the web that conveyed information on the manhole cover I thought would be of interest to those of you whom have never looked down to the streets.

A fun article by Andrew Emond who has explored the underground systems of Montréal and Toronto, Canada. Andrew put together a guide for the most common manhole covers in Montréal in his article "Everything You Probably Never Cared To Know About Manhole Covers."

Another article that caught my eye was by Andrew Guilbert entitled “The Art of Calgary's Manholes.”  Andrew gives us a glimpse of history, new manhole covers and call to artists. Calgary's manhole covers are some of the most prevalent artworks in the city, says Andrew.

Abraham Piper’s article “Misplaced manhole covers to drive you crazy”, might be disturbing for all obsessive compulsive driven people. The photos were a good laugh for me, I often wonder—”Why, two more minutes!” It only takes two more minutes to reposition the manhole covers properly. Do these photographs force you to cringe?


Now, I’m pump-up to create eight new volumes of manhole covers I photographed on my trip across Canada...

Back Home

I’m back!

Winter is just around the corner—I know, I know Ottawa, Ontario, Canada has it worse—I have the impression that Fall is colder than last year in Idaho. When I left Ottawa, the leaves were in full colour and the rain kept on coming. Here in Idaho the colours of the leaves are still stunning and has extended my Autumn experience.

I spent time with my dear friend Vera Greenwood, a fantastic writer who captivates your interest. Vera has successful exhibition installations under her belt.

Vera’s art practice is subjectively personal with an emphasis on storytelling, while observing the world. Her work is highly autobiographical, revealing a keen interest in recordkeeping and investigative research. Because her installations have always incorporated text—sometimes large amounts—bookworks have become a logical extension of Vera’s art practice. 

© 2011 Vera Greenwood, cover of her book "The Whole Enchilada, My Madcap Mexican Adventure," a terrific read

© 2011 Vera Greenwood, cover of her book "The Whole Enchilada, My Madcap Mexican Adventure," a terrific read


I visited the small studio of Mary Kritz, an Ottawa based artist who works with paper products to construct hand bound books and boxes. Inspired by nature, architecture, and art, Mary creates personal moments with rules and omissions, exploration and play.

© 2016 Mary Kritz

© 2016 Mary Kritz

Her book arts are notable for their unique finishes and tactile nature. This is of great importance and bears witness to well-developed artistic craftsmanship. Mary focuses on learned techniques and a wide range of materials to create her books.

© 2016 Mary Kritz

© 2016 Mary Kritz

© 2016 Mary Kritz

© 2016 Mary Kritz

© 2016 Mary Kritz

© 2016 Mary Kritz


I vacationed at my brother’s cottage with our new T@B trailer. I was eager to visit more studios but playing Bocce Ball and drinking wine enticed me to stay in the country with no worries to disturb happy hour.

I walked the streets of Ottawa and photographed new manhole covers. I discovered new cover designs while delivering 14 new volumes of City Shields to my contact at the National Gallery of Canada library. Here are my new volumes ready for cataloguing and join the other 52 volumes collected by the library.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, new volumes of City Shields

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, new volumes of City Shields

In 2008, Gatineau launched a manhole cover design contest called Reg'art d'égout (artful covers) that involved designing two manhole cover models for the city's streets. These two manhole covers are part of Vol 3: No 10 Gatineau, Québec (secteur Gatineau) volume of City Shields published in 2009. To purchase this volume, please visit my website.

It is difficult to choose a favourite they are both a delight to view. These decorative manhole covers adorn most streets of Gatineau.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, Une vie, Une ville (A life, A city)

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, Une vie, Une ville (A life, A city)

© 2016 Louise Levergneux

© 2016 Louise Levergneux

Topaz, my studio resident dog needs a walk, I need to finish the laundry, carry out maintenance on our T@B, and make supper—the only imaginative activity today except for this blog post.

Talk to you next week and in the meantime check out the manhole covers of your city...

Fun, Fun, Fun

Still on holiday and time is going by fast. Friends and family to visit, shopping and of course searching for new manhole covers of home. Work never stops!

Ottawa has changed and has new manhole covers. I’m looking forward to walk the streets and photograph manhole covers of the city. I hope I can collect enough to create another province of Québec and Ontario volume. Will see! 

During our trip, between the rain and fog, this older Cranbrook City, BC, manhole cover did not miss on type size.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, BC manhole cover

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, BC manhole cover

The best manhole cover design of our trip is the “Chinook” sewer manhole cover in the City of Calgary, AL. Yes, it comes close in rating to the Rodeo Cowboy! This “stupéfiant” amazing manhole cover was designed by the late artist Garry Williams in 2002.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, Alberta manhole cover

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, Alberta manhole cover

Drumheller, Alberta, is the heart of the Canadian Badlands and is widely recognized as “Dinosaur Capital of the World." The World's Largest Dinosaur (86 ft/25 meters) built as a Millennium Project by the Drumheller & District Chamber of Commerce. Look at the photo and check out the size of our small camper. Drumheller also has a pleasing manhole cover.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, Dinosaur Valley

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, Dinosaur Valley

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, Alberta manhole cover

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, Alberta manhole cover

Before leaving Saskatchewan, I asked Cathryn Miller to show me how to create a Chinese Lucky tar. This star will be added to the thousands of stars waiting to be part of her next project—an installation of wishing stars in the form of a walking contemplation labyrinth. Please help Cathryn by making wishes. Click here to leave her a wish.

Our next stop the City of Regina had quite the excellent manhole cover design.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, Saskatchewan manhole cover

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, Saskatchewan manhole cover

I’m interested in plain designed manhole covers like this one in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, Manitoba manhole cover

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, Manitoba manhole cover

What an asymmetric design in Terrance Bay, Ontario.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, Ontario manhole cover

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, Ontario manhole cover

Having fun, fun, fun, talk soon!

'jamais deux sans trois'

I’ve been busy getting my family prepared for our annual trip across the country to my home town of Gatineau, Québec, Canada. We are leaving next week and for the first time in eight years, we will travel the Trans-Canada Highway from Alberta to Québec.

This is the snail way across the country. The slow driving gives me the opportunity to photograph manhole covers along my journey. With the intention of publishing an artists’ book of Canadian anecdotes, I will collect photographs that catch my eye along this 10-day trip.

In between preparations, I’m trying to finish phase seven and eight of City Shields by printing and cutting inserts, collating and packaging.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, front and back of inserts ready to cut

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, front and back of inserts ready to cut

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, phase seven, cutting the inserts

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, phase seven, cutting the inserts

©2016 Louise Levergneux, probably the last 10 pack of Iomega Zip disks jewel cases in the world!

©2016 Louise Levergneux, probably the last 10 pack of Iomega Zip disks jewel cases in the world!

If any of you know where I can purchase more of these Iomega Zip Disks Jewel Cases, please email me. They have been discontinued by the manufacturer.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, fresh off the press Vol US 26 : No 1 Dakota

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, fresh off the press Vol US 26 : No 1 Dakota


Last week, I posed the question “Has the manhole cover become a point of interest for other artists?”

I received a link to Raubdruckerin Printers’ website. They print t-shirts, hoodies, tote and gym bags inspired by banal urban street manhole covers. People who buy the garments and bags become themselves a part of their project. So, the project is a refinement of the everyday culture as well as a permanent consciousness-changing connection with our surroundings. 

The video below demonstrates Raubdruckerin using a manhole cover at the Centre Pompidou in Paris to print a t-shirt. 

Raubdruckerin continue their journey to Berlin. The t-shirt prints are taken directly from a manhole cover using water based ink without solvent, flexibilizer, PVC or heavy metals. 

What a fabulous idea! What I found even more interesting, believing in the French expression—'jamais deux sans trois' ("never twice without a third [time]"), is that I received not two but three emails with the same link. Three of my regular blog readers are thinking alike! Peggy Seeger and Cathryn Miller must hang out in the same places on the web. Betty Mallorca, a friend and painter based in Nampa, Idaho, seem to frequent the same circles as Peggy and Cathryn since she sent me the same link to this project.

How should I respond to this phenomenon? The never twice without a third is a sign, I’m sure! Do I contact this group based in Berlin? Do I start a dialogue of my project City Shields with Raubdruckerin? Do any of you know the group? 

Back to packing!