So, for two weeks, I’ll be outside. 😺
Long story shorter, a couple months ago my husband @muellerlowlife applied to do a mural for the city of West Allis as part of a project led by Wallpapered City, LLC, a local consultancy firm which sources artists for large-scale murals.
Sooooooo… my other half (“David”) diligently worked to come up with a design and, when he felt confident in it, applied to place his design on a small wall.
It was anything but a sure thing. It also was clear lots of artists applied.
And time passed.
And soon we thought his design wasn’t chosen as the deadline was extended (usually that means the committee didn’t get a submission they wanted so they ask for more)
…and then the second deadline passed and…
household morale was low.
But then, after the second deadline passed, they (Wallpapered City) called and blew our minds.
Because they and the city of West Allis apparently loved my husband’s submission. In fact, they extended the deadline to find additional work but his submission was in from the start.
Since we thought he wasn’t in at all… that news was pretty unexpected and wonderful.
However, the business owner whose wall he applied for didn’t like his submission.
Allegedly, he was the only one who didn’t. The city and the LLC fought but… you can’t make a man like a mural he doesn’t want to like.
So Wallpapered City and West Allis instead awarded my husband the feature wall, right on the main drag, which is twice the size of the wall he applied for.
That’s the story.
From highs to lows and back again, an artist’s tale.
So he has two weeks to do this 80’ x 18’ mural and I’m the other half of his team. We are a married art collective called Sign of the Times.
In any case, the mural is so big we were given a boom lift which at first terrified me but now it’s just another thing that beeps too loudly and generally makes too much noise all the time.
Also, this week is really rainy so we’ve only been able to work one and a half days.
Yet, I can’t help but think/fret about the American West on fire and wish the rain would go where it’s most needed.
It feels selfish to complain about rain when people’s homes are being devoured by flame, choked by smoke and ash and so many are looking at a sky which has turned orange.
So here in rainy Wisconsin, we are taking what we can get.
Monday night we started. We were able to project the image on the wall so David could trace it.
The trees photo-bombed a lot.
And the next day was crazy rainy. We went out there and stared at the wall and got soaked to the bone and made no progress.
However, Wednesday the rain was lighter so we decided to start priming the wall, using the traced lines as reference points.
And we got a hell of a lot done!
I was in charge of priming everything accessible to me from the ground. I’m tall so I could access quite a bit.
The difficult thing about priming this wall is how it’s super crumbly with deep pits so to comprehensively cover it with the white primer takes a great deal of physical energy.
It is an example of one of the only times you can really go batshit on an object and it would be the correct course of action.
So I had to psyche myself up.
Because, after I primed my “first area”, I stood back and realized that my arms were burning.
I have been training for this! As an epileptic who feels as if her body is breaking down, over the course of the last year, I’ve been building up what muscles I could 💪 for more mental health reasons and… well, this was good.
Because otherwise I would have been toast.
Toast is nice but it wouldn’t have helped the situation.
And then we really got into the zone.
Thank you, coffee.
As the person priming from the ground on a rainy day, I also had the privilege of standing in deep mud. 😂
When I’d leave the “work area” and walk on the sidewalk, I’d have so much mud caked on the bottom of my shoe, I was two inches taller.
I also left footprints wherever I went.
But it was nice to have a physical, tangible goal.
That wall became my enemy and I attacked it from the muddy ground until the image started to not-so-magically appear.
In fact, we were moving along quite smoothly until I hit the apple tree.
Why an apple tree had been planted flush against a brick wall, I don’t know. The landscapers were clearly not arborists.
Yet, the little apple tree who was not planted to succeed did produce apples.
Go, apple tree.
I know the tree produced apples because I was then trying not to step on them as I tried to work around the motherflipping apple tree in my way.
The tree kind of threw off my routine. I was temporarily stopped in my tracks. Largely because I was exhausted, needed a break, and also because a honey bee was intensely upset with me.
Its fury probably had something to do with how I had its mud house on the bottom of my shoes and was also messing with the apple tree it depended on.
In any case, this bee would not quit. It had eyes for me only too. I ignored it until it was buzz-buzz-buzzing right in my face.
And then it chased me around the yard.
If anyone was home in the retirement housing which sits across the street, yesterday may have been quite entertaining for them.
The bee simply would not quit. I’d leave and come back, and the bee would be waiting for me.
I don’t like killing bugs or creatures or much of anything (except fruit flies and centipede children) so I wasn’t about to kill this bee.
And it was a honey bee which is a species that is dangerously endangered and on which our earthly existence depends.
I wasn’t going to kill a honey bee.
But eventually the bee tired out or died because that’s what they do now or something and I was able to get back to work.
And soon we reached the end of the day with about 3/4 the priming done. The rain started to pick up and we called it.
We had hoped to finish the priming today but, as it’s yet another super rainy day, we are going to wait to return to the site until tonight when the rain is supposed to clear so we can project the details onto the image.
And then tomorrow… we will finish the design prime, start the color and bring David’s design to life.
Last night, while I iced my old body, we ended our day with hot chocolate and space.
That was nice. 🖤
Since Monday night we got chilled to the bone because it was suddenly cold outside, unexpectedly, Tuesday we got soaked to the bone and Wednesday we killed our physical selves in the cold rain, we’ll likely be dead from pneumonia soon.
So it’s good to drink hot drinks and appreciate the Halloween ambience while we still can.
8 thoughts on “Working from Street: “Dile B for Birder””
Wow, I always wondered how people work at that scale.
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Scaffolding, a scissor lift and… now a boom lift are what we’ve used, dear Gabi. Haha yes indeed. Crazy! 🤪
This is very cool. Also slightly terrifying (that’s Lisa, worrying). Also, I see David stores his tension in his mouth (I do, too–some of it) (does he grind his teeth at night?).
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Haha it’s a big adventure!!! Yes! Somewhat dangerous but… exciting! Mostly miserable and also exciting. More bee adventures today… got up at 3AM to come out here and now… winding down. The weather is killing us. Need it to be dark and dry and it just won’t stop raining here… and the west continues to burn. 😔
David is a tosser and turner at night but he doesn’t grind his teeth. I’m so sorry you have that… I’ve had friends who had bad cases of it. ☹️
Wow!!! So, they were TRYING to find a design to beat your husband’s? Why?! :-p Should have gone with their gut! They did, so it’s okay, I guess.
I’m not sure if you showed the design you had planned, but I’m interested in seeing what this will become. Kind of looks like birds!
I’m not artsy like you are. I use my words to be creative, but I know from experience that writing is difficult and you run into sections that need certain skills and techniques to make the scene shine. Your mural seems like a similar process. The bee, the apple tree, the mud… I have a feeling this is going to be a masterpiece after the struggle. Well done!!!
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Haha well the business owner wanted a different artist’s design so my husband was awarded the biggest wall as the city and the LLC loved it.
And now that mural for that business is done. It looks nice. 💙
Now this is the last and biggest mural of this project! Yay! I’m just the manual laborer and security on this mural. 😂 More of a wordsmith too.
Thank you so much, Cat!!!! So much!! I’m so excited to see the design come to life too! (Crocodile and a bird… 🥰😺)…
I sure hope I don’t end up posting this twice (but the original one disappeared).
More random thoughts:
Perhaps there were plans to espalier the apple tree, which might have been kinda nifty, except for INTRUDING on an original, commissioned MURAL. PERHAPS plans might be made to MOVE the apple tree to a more congenial location. Just sayin.’ (What were they thinking?)
“Apples are a traditional option for espalier training. These trees maintain flexible limbs during the first few years of growth and are easy to tie to a trellis without breaking them. Their relatively fast growth rate means they need a large wall or trellis.”
Wondering…what’s on the roof? If that’s a knee wall up there, might it be feasible to drape a great big tarp under which to work? Something I’ve seen done…So much tension in David’s face. It would be nice if that could be a reasonable solution to the problem of painting in the rain. Added benefit–the dramatic reveal.
This is outrageously awesome exposure, y’all. This is going to up your game so much. If you weren’t already the go-to muralists in your neck of the woods, you officially are, now. I am so excited for you!
I love tasks where you work hard, get to gaze at tangible results at the end of each day, and go home good-tired to a luscious hot shower, comfort food, and something good to drink. (Cocoa’s more than acceptable. However, I prefer a vodka tonic my own self.)
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I have no idea what the landscapers were thinking. Apple trees’ roots need room to spread out. At the same time, one of the apple trees produced apples! Soooo…?
Yet, when we arrived yesterday at 4AM the apple tree was gone. So were the dead trees they had planted and then uprooted and left there so, by the time we arrived on site the first day, there were just two dead trees laying on the ground which we had to step over.
We thought they were going to move them. Not just… uproot them.
So that was very sad.
SO when we got on site yesterday early morning, we immediately noticed the dead trees were gone but… so was the apple tree.
I’d like to think the landscapes transplanted it but… ☹️
Meanwhile, the giant boom lift is tearing up the manicured lawn due to the ongoing rain. It’s a muddy mess.
I get the feeling that the landscapers are somewhat upset about the mural and don’t really care about the trees, based on how they just uprooted them (they were young… not too tall yet… they could have been carried away)…. sooooo yeah. What were they thinking indeed.
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