…just getting started / by EricOkdeh

2008 marks my 10th year of being a Muralist. In those 10 years I've found myself racing against winter weather to finish a Mural at least 6 times.

Ive painted:

  • in the snow
  • during actual snowstorms
  • in freezing weather using a heatgun
  • in the freezing rain with blue tarps running from the roof to the tops of the scaffolding
  • on New Years Day in the snow
  • On a day that registered -1 degree (I was installing a buildout that day)

This year will be no different.

Im doing a project at 52nd and Master Sts on the site of the Bibleway Baptist Church. Mural Arts has had a presence in the neighborhood, drumming up support and collaborations for the project, since the early summer. The design is approved and Im beginning to cut glass for a large portion of the wall.

The mural will be multimedia: glass, paint, and relief sculpture. The project is a tall order in terms of finishing before the winter season. However I remember a few muralists working in January this past year because the weather worked in their favor.
I'm hoping for a little luck.

If anyone reading this finds themselves trying to finish a project in the winter time, here are a few tips from me on how to stay warm.

  • Boil your brush water in the morning.
    It takes a little extra time but fill up a pot and bring it to a boil. pour the water in the 5gal bucket and cover it. Your guaranteed a good 5 hours of warm water, so your not freezing your fingers off cleaning your brushes.

  • Layers, and tucking in clothing
    Wear some longjohns under your pants and tuck them in your socks. Tuck one of your many tshirts solidly into your underwear. I swear this keeps you 10 degrees warmer.
  • If you can, work with the sun
    If you arent in a desperate mad dash to finish like I will be, work afternoons when its warmer, OR work when you have sunlight. Everyone painting a mural should know where the sun will be and when. East facing walls get the morning sun, West facing walls are good in the afternoon.
  • Make friends with the neighbors
    Seriously... out of pity it might get you a cup of coffee, or even a home cooked meal at the end of the day.
  • Grow a serious beard (or wear a scarf)
    I foresaw my situation months ago, Since then I've been farming an intense beard to help combat the cold.


On to the wall...

This is the wall. The building was once the home of Rev. Jones and his father. Now it acts as a community center.
Its roughly 40ft high by 60ft wide. In the design (which I will post soon) I saw an opportunity to use the facade's unique shape to my advantage, bringing out some architectural elements in the design.

This part of 52nd Street has 4 or 5 different churches on it, you can see another right across the street from Bibleway.

Across the street is a mural by Paris Stancell. Paris was the first muralist I met when I started 10 years ago. He's done some really great work throughout the city, and to me, he is one of the few artists that are synonymous with the Mural Arts Program.
Part of my design reflects the arches and the stained glass feel of this wall. I felt that it was important to have some sort of reference to the work as it is right across the street. I wanted to create some kind of dialogue between the two walls. I feel that people will naturally make those connections, and possibly create new ones.