I painted my first mural! Thanks to Redwood City Parks, Recreation, and Community Service, I recently got the opportunity to beautify a set of utility boxes at the corner of Middlefield Rd. and Willow St. in Redwood City, California.
One of my goals for this year was to paint a mural. I'd been wanting to explore my favorite patterns but on a larger scale. I saw that Redwood City Parks, Recreation, and Community Service had put out a call for artists, and I applied. I put together a proposal based on the maze motif I'd developed in a previous steel project. My design was selected, and I dove in!
This project came with a number of challenges, all of which made me a better artist. First, I learned how to work with paint! I hadn't painted anything in years, and this project was a crash course in primer, mixing colors, and using painter's tape. Secondly, working away from a studio -- and away from tools, a sink, and supplies -- meant that I had to plan ahead, and keep a mobile studio in the back of my car. Lastly, it was 90 degrees. Some days, my shirt was drenched with sweat by 8:30am! I have a newfound respect for anyone whose job requires them to be out in the elements all day long.
The best part of this project was getting to know the community during those six days I spent on that street corner. I had lovely chats with curious folks stopped at the red light. I fielded questions and waves from little kids. I chatted with Mexican workers in broken Spanglish. I got a joyful pep talk from a homeless woman pushing a shopping cart. On an especially hot day, an employee from the grocery store nearby came by and brought me a coconut water. An hour later, a woman in a passing car literally offered me the hat off her head. I got more smiles and thumbs-ups from strangers than I could begin to count.
I feel like I've gotten to know this corner of Redwood City so well. It's been an honor and a privilege. This sounds cheesy, but it was humbling to see how a little splash of art on a street corner could bring smiles to so many people's faces. This project was my first foray into public art, and I think I might be hooked.
If you're in the area, go check out the boxes in person! Here's a map of where they're located. And if you'd like to check out all of the other public art in Redwood City, check out the Explore RWC app for Apple and Android phones. (Side note: How cool is it that Redwood City not only invests in public art, but even built an app to help people discover it!)
Here are some process photos:
Thank you to the following folks:
- Redwood City Parks, Recreation, and Community Service: Thank you for selecting my design and giving me this amazing opportunity! Sheila Cepero and Beth Mostovoy, thank you for supporting local artists and giving us a platform to share our work.
- Alexis Bullock: Thanks to my awesome summer intern for being down to help me paint this mural in the blazing heat!
- Sigona's Farmers Market: Thanks for being my "home base" throughout this project! Your food, parking lot, and bathroom were lifesavers, and I really enjoyed getting to meet Carmelo and a handful of your employees.
- Johnathon DeSoto: Your tape tutorials were a game-changer, Johnathon! Thanks for sharing your secrets with me.
- Jeff Goodwin, Emi Grannis, and Nicole Sweeney: Thanks, Maker Fam, for your moral support throughout this project (and always).
- Phil Reyneri: I will never forget that you drove all the way down to Redwood City just to help me with that damned shade structure -- I owe you one!