I am so grateful to share that this late summer/autumn 2016 season has been quite the bustle for me and my maniacal mural ways. Here are two stories surrounding my most recent large projects.
Story 1: KROGER
While in the midst of a few projects, I had a swarm of friends "tagging" me on Facebook to an article posted by The Columbus Dispatch newspaper. The article told of a fun, lucrative opportunity for artists. Kroger Company was building three new large, beautiful stores in and around the Columbus area, and they desired to invest in some local artwork.
After - quite literally - somewhere around the 20th person tagging me in this article, I decided that not only did it seem like a wise investment of my time, but it felt divine. So, I made space in my very-much-accounted-for schedule to apply for the opportunity, honestly thinking I didn't have much of a chance.
Two days before my birthday, I received an email letting me know that I had been selected as one of the final 3 artists chosen to compete for a spot as one of Kroger Northland's artists. #saywhat? Not a bad birthday present. ;) There would be two artists chosen - two murals painted - so it was exciting to know that my odds were favorable.
I had two weeks to submit my design ideas. I crafted up two images that were pretty conceptual, and I was really excited about both of them.
A few days after submitting my ideas, I was asked, however, to re-submit. Kroger desired something less conceptual and more representational... and I was given four days to get it together if I wanted the opportunity. NO PRESSURE!
So... I put out feelers to my friends, asking them what places they thought in the Northland area best communicated its heartbeat.
After compiling a huge list, I drove EVERYWHERE, and I even biked the length of the Alum Creek Trail in that section of the city... just to see and know and understand the many facets that create what is termed "Northland." I interrupted other people's bike rides and dog walks in order to talk to them. I awkwardly took the photo of one of the butchers behind the counter at Carfagna's meat market. I took a selfie with a guy who didn't speak a lick of English. I got permission to take a picture of one of the long-standing employees at the Karl Rd YMCA. I discovered the Minerva Park section and Woodward Nature Reserve. And as I meandered through the neighborhoods, it dawned on me... I was on a treasure hunt searching for gold.
You see, the Northland area had been dubbed by many as unsafe and undesirable, as - since it's heyday in the 80's and 90's - the "cool factor" dwindled and crime increased. Many of the wealthy moved out, property values had dropped, and a huge wave of immigrants filled in the empty spaces that were left in that section of the city.
But as I travelled through the area, I became enamored with the colorful beauty that surrounded me, and I became convinced that the extreme amount of diversity that painted the neighborhoods was actually the strength of Northland.
And so, my design celebrated that diverse, colorful spirit that Northland embodies by showing off its people and its hidden locational secrets...
In the end, Kroger chose my design to be featured as the larger of two murals, and would be displayed in the main vestibule (entrance area) of the sparkling new Kroger Northland Village location. :) Just wow. Jaw drop.
The mural was to be 16' tall by 13' wide. And it needed to be created offsite... which in layman's terms means... IN MY HOUSE.
First, it took over my dining room...
...And then it took over my garage.
And, at the end of the day, there were eight panels. Each panel was 4 feet tall, so I could only see half of my mural together at one time. Between this and knowing that my painting would end up on a bright green wall, it took some serious imagination and focus to make sure that it would feel at home and cohesive once displayed.
There were some delays in obtaining my work surface. At first I was going to use wood panels, but ended up (after a long, complicated, stressful process - details I will spare you) deciding upon stretched canvas. Once I actually had what I needed, it left me with only THREE WEEKS to prep, transfer my drawings, paint and varnish each gigantic panel. There were many 12 hour days, and even an "all-nighter" which I had sworn I would abstain from post college. Ha.
I used Liquitex acrylic paints for the overall canvas coverage, and then I accented each subject with a splash of shiny gold Modern Masters paint to emphasize that they were my treasure.
Install day was nerve-wracking and simultaneously glorious. How amazing to see all eight panels secured together and complimenting the bright green wall it was adhered to! Sweet victory!
Whew. What an adventure. Talk about an adrenaline rush!
Thank you, Kroger Co for the extreme honor to craft such a large, significant work for your generous establishment. I consider it a milestone in my artistic journey. May the art bless your store and your overall business. May the people of Northland stop to notice the gold all around them, appreciating the beauty in every face they encounter.
Story 2: Endocrinology Associates, Inc.
Before the Kroger mural began, I was in the throws of a crazy 55 foot long hallway mural that Doctor Elena Christofides hired me to create for her patients in the research department of her practice.
The idea was simple: Create something beautiful and floral, interesting and peaceful. Christofides loves gardens and travel, and wanted each of the patient rooms to have a different scene across from their doorway entrances.
Flowers? Travel? Yes, please.
The final design incorporates 4 ecosystems. It begins with a desert gardenscape, then transitions into a European garden scene, then a Japanese-inspired garden, and finally a tropical rainforest scene. The style is inspired by Art Nouveau work, emulating a watercolor feel, then complimented by outlines.
I had just begun this mural when I found out about the Kroger competition, and once I found out that I had been selected to actually create for Kroger, I had completed about half of the hallway imagery. Doctor Christofides was overwhelmingly supportive when I needed to take a break from her mural and focus on the Kroger deadline... for which I am eternally grateful.
Here are some finished photos of the work I did in her hallway. Since the hall is narrow, getting great photos were a challenge, and these feel sub-par, but they will give you the basic jist.
In the end, this mural took about 2 1/2 months to complete, and I am tremendously pleased with the final product. :) I am so grateful that Elena and her team trusted me with this enormous task.