If you walk through Redwood City, at first you might not notice Belanger's art at all. But eventually, you'll realize that something in the town is just a bit off. And that's because many objects in the town have awfully unusual shadows.
Belanger's Redwood City art involves taking seemingly ordinary objects around town, and then giving them extraordinary shadows. Some passers-by might be confused for a moment. But we're guessing that when they realized the shadows are fake, they're probably not mad about it.
A machine where you pay for parking is usually not an object that brings people joy. Paying for parking simply isn't a particularly fun activity. But that all changes when the machine's shadow is possessed by a monkey.
If you want to see flowers growing in a city, you usually have to head over to the nearest park. But thanks to Belanger, you can also see them growing on the sidewalk. And even more impressive, these flowers have the ability to smile.
The theme of his art is "transformation and surprise," Belanger said. "We don’t pay much attention to shadows until something interesting happens, like you notice a shadow cast by a tree that looks like an animal or something unusual. it’s kind of like looking for shapes in clouds."
Belanger expanded further on the "shapes in the clouds" aspect of his art. "That's the way I approached these pieces: given what is there casting the shadow, what else could that thing be or project, given its size and shape? What if it transformed and came alive?"
In a few of Belanger's pieces, the shadows create robot people engaging in some non-robot activities. For instance, you normally don't see robots operating a railroad handcar together. But anything is possible in the shadows.
Why the robots? Belanger said, "Robotech was a popular series when I was a kid, a Japanese anime translated for American audiences. I also enjoyed Transformers, which was based on a Japanese toy line."
Another one of his major influences is old Loony Tunes cartoons. "I think this mix of influences comes through in the playfulness of the shadows and of course the recurring robot theme," he said. "Redwood City wanted something whimsical and fun, something that appeals to everybody."
While Belanger's art is still drying, it needs to be taped off so nobody disrupts it. Although it's also possible that the mailbox monster got somebody, and this has now become some sort of crime scene.