September 10, 2012

Mural in Downtown Fredericksburg

On Friday, September 7th, 2012,The BikeWorks Mural Project was officially unveiled to the public. The mayor of Fredericksburg, Mary Catherine Greenlaw, and the city Arts Commission Chairman, Seth Casana, spoke about the conception, implementation, and celebration of Downtown Fredericksburg's newest mural. Many people were involved in the project, including FA's sophomore Cami Parrish and former FA student Will Baker. As the designer and project leader, I have planned different concepts for the mural for the past four years. In May 2012, I received a call from the Arts Commission of Fredericksburg, inquiring about my ideas. After a brief presentation of my plans to include area high school students in the execution of a 25 foot full-color mural, the commission the saught additional funding from the City Council.  In early July, I received the call that I had received the grant of $7,500! I then had to secure written permission from the building owner and business owner, with conditions agreed upon, such as a bike image to be included, and the mural will be maintained for five years or more. On July 30, 2012, written permission was secured, and an informational meeting was held in the CRRL library for any interested high school students. I assembled a team of three professional artists and five student mentees, then secured a wall prep team of scrapers and base coat painters. Our hydraulic lift was ordered for the month of August, and I completed the final images for review. An image of a young lady facing the city from Chatham Manor, on a bike, with several layers of landscaping in between, was selected by all, and the graphing process began. Our first big challenge was learning to drive the machinery, then creating an accurate grid on a 40-foot vertical wall. Both took us 6 days, and we felt very behind-schedule at that point. Our next phase involved rolling out large areas of base color, divided into sky, background, and foreground. We could not reach the lower half right side of the wall due to the angle of the lift, so we had to work on the upper top and right areas. We drew, then painted the top border first. Our foliage in the sky came next, with spray paints and latex. We discovered that the spray paints were not going to be a safe or clean medium around the students (the odors- even with masks, combined with upper 90" weather, made us feel quite ill), so we chose to stick with our latex exterior paints and small brushes. Our next area of focus:  creating the horizon line, sun, steeple, and head of the  female ( 16" tall). After a myraid of trees among landmarks, we continued the female form and clothing. On a hot Sunday, I worked solo on the large stone pineapple attached to a brick column. The next step: outlining the bike, bricks, and grass border. Our third week involved finalizing the top half and starting the lettering. Troy Howell, our guest artist at FA in 2011-2012, designed a retro font for the Fredericksburg EST. 1728 at the base of the mural. A night film of our progress is available on Our final week was spent filling in the lettering, the  large slate stones, grass, and the 36 spokes on the bike tires. We re-did the bike tires several times, trying to blend an odd angle with a geometric maze of wires. Our very last evening, Carol and I finished the outlining of the letters and double-coating the entire mural with spray sealant.  Over 100 people from the community poured into the parking lot at 6pm, all gazing up above the speakers'heads as if watching a drive-in movie. We then cut the cake, which was decorated with a photo of the mural on the icing from Paul's Bakery, and socialized with old and new friends. The best surprise of the evening: a visitor to the unveiling announced that he is donating $1,000 for our next mural project in the city!!!  There aren't enough thanks to acknowledge our community for coming together and celebrating a much-needed new mural in a welcoming location along the Chatham Bridge. Mural in Downtown Fredericksburg on PhotoPeach

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