Monday, October 18, 2010

The Last Frontier

So, this is the mural I was pulled away from the Iron Bird Lofts hallways for...

It started off as me just coming in as an outside source for a drawing. I was just going to help out and sketch some stuff up based on a couple of Reza's ideas. Then, Francisco Vargas, would execute it, and add text. Simple as that. Well, somehow I got talked into going along with the project, I already had a mural going on that I had yet to finish, and here I was, taking off and starting a brand new one. I'd be getting my hands dirty with a new medium I had never worked with, and I'd be working alongside a local artist I had looked up to as a kid. Also the mural was to be painted on an old billboard, which sits about 10 feet on top of a roof.

Francisco did this in '92, on the side of WECO paint supply.

I'd stare up at it as I passed it on my way to Blanca's bakery with my Grandmother, or to Castillos to get a bag of chips and play video games next door with my brother, way back when there was still a liquor store on the side of Castillos. Back then, I always thought how awesome it was to see a mural dedicated to Madonna...

So, here I was, a little unsure of the project I had agreed to, about to paint with a Juggernaut of epic proportions; Franciso's a well known and well respected sign and mural artist through out the entire country. I can throw down with a pen, but everything I know about paint, and especially murals, is completely trial and error.

I drew this up.

we filled in the details as we went along.

Then came time for the actual painting. I dont, in any sense of the word, keep regular hours, but Francisco does. So I had to be up and out there at around 9 every morning. Yeah, I know, 9 isn't bad, for most people thats probably sleeping in. But you gotta understand, I usually dont call it a night until about 4 in the morning.

To get up to the billboard, we first had to climb up Francisco's ladder truck to the roof. Then maneuver around the domed roof and in between metal reinforcement bars. Then we'd climb up a very jerry-rigged extension ladder and up to the foot-wide scaffolding set up for us inches from the billboard. Just getting up to the damn thing was tiresome.

First day we're out there, we're setting up and Francisco warns me about watching my head at all times, the scaffolding was tightly made, and there really wasnt any wiggle room, let alone room for error.

Almost comedically, minutes after he warns me, I hear a huge *clank* and a slight groan. I look up from the paint I'm mixing, and 'Cisco's holding his head,

"You alrite?", I ask.

"Banged my head. Check it out, am I bleeding?"

I checked and he was. Alot.
"Yup. You are."

I grabbed a paint rag to wipe the blood away and got a better look at the wound. I moved a bit of his hair away and noticed a small flap of scalp, set itself back down like a fleshey puzzle piece, as my hand passed over the chunk of hair where the wound was. It was pretty bad.

"Its bad man, you need stitches..."

"Shit.....Well....We're already up here and set up....we might as well get the sketch done."

WHAT! How bad ass is that? I knew I couldnt complain about anything after that.

I havent done a commission mural in about a decade. I learned so much about "traditional" sign painting from this project. Even though the whole theme and idea of it, isnt something I'd do in my own personal work, I had a good time and learned a new medium, oil enamel, which I've never used before.

here's 'Cisco in front of the other side of the billboard, which he painted a week or two before the "last frontier" mural.

and here he is with tommy lee.

More of Francisco's work can be seen here

More murals here

some of tommy lee's work here

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