What was the motivation to paint a mural, Andrew?
Creating artwork with meaning has been my goal as a creative. I desire to connect with people other than myself on issues who rarely get the attention. I have discovered, in my years of creating and showing work, that I am only reaching a small audience. More recently Sarah and I have been creating work alongside each other via our own modes of expression (painting/storytelling). The weight of the work we're coming up with has only fueled the desire to appeal to more than the small gallery-goer/art magazine-flipping population of this world. In the way that we combine painting with storytelling to allow inclusion with our work, we also are driven to make that work accessible to the masses.
Public art was never on my radar until I was struck with these feelings. Displaying in galleries seems to always be the pinnacle of success for visual artists. I’m not poo-pooing on serious spaces with room for reflection and vocabularious conversations, I’m just saying, I know a lot of people who don’t go to galleries. And I think the more I create alongside Sarah, the more I’m realizing our work is meant for a wide impact. Not a bubble. Because we're sure as hell not making art to be notable/wealthy(by society’s definition)/famous/selfish.
I came across some artists who opened my eyes a little to what a mural could be. It showed me that a mural could be approached from the fine art perspective. As opposed to (mostly what I had been exposed to) the graffiti approach (also not poo-pooing on that). So then I asked myself, “Can’t I just paint fine art on buildings instead of canvas?” So, this past March, Sarah and I set out to do just that.
The popsicle mural/The first mural/The test
We found one of our favorite interior walls in town owned by our friend Stephen. He gave us nothing but accommodations, opportunity, and trust in what we set out to do. A blessing for sure! This wall is the 40 x 11 foot wall that spans the length of The Hyppo Cafe in St. Augustine, FL. Being the production home of every pop in the Hyppo brand and the hottest lunch spot in town, it was also the only location in the Hyppo family that wasn’t adorned with an interior mural. When The Hyppo Cafe opened, I was given the opportunity to show my work on its walls. So, in terms of being part of the community through my art, I already had a very personal connection to this space. This wall quickly became the right fit for our biggest painting to date.
Because this was an interior mural, we appealed to the subject matter of the space... Fresh, Fruit, Pops, Color, Energy. To showcase a bit more of the ingredients for the iconic pop, instead of the pop itself, I sourced photographs of the unique fruits and veggies alongside head pop maker, Kyle, at the market. I took at least 4 photos of each fruit with different light direction to lend itself to the concept of a swirling effect that aligned with the natural light source from the front windows in The Hyppo Cafe. This would allow me to build the radial composition one form at a time. It would also allow me to paint on the wall directly from photographs in later stages.
Once the prep was done, we bought pure red, yellow, blue, black, white, and magenta interior latex wall paint. Acquiring pure colors would allow me to mix on site without getting the muddiness that swatch mixes could have caused. A couple four-inch rollers, pole extensions, paint trays, cheap rags, a borrowed ladder and we were set. I was initially attracted to the roller (rectangular) application of paint as it shared the same blocky effects I’m drawn to with square brushes when I work on canvas.
The process took about 70 hours in 17 visits. And we couldn’t be happier with the result. (see a bit of the process below)
We know we won’t be painting just fruit and veggies in the projects ahead, but this process proved and disproved a lot of speculations we had about the execution of such a gigantic undertaking. The greatest reward from the process was seeing that a mural can indeed be painted with the layers and loose style I'm most comfortable with on canvas. It’s not as daunting now as we plan for bigger walls. This experience embarks on a new goal for myself and Sarah. We did this together. And it wouldn't be what it is if it weren't for the collaboration. This was Sarah's first time taking charge of her painting skills, but we can already tell this is going to be a strong team moving forward!
The message is one that is simple. It just needed to be proclaimed in a huge way. The Hyppo has such a respect for the pieces that make up the whole of their product. Ingredients are selected and cared for with prestige, and the process of doing so is energetic. It is fun. It is human. And, in a way that mirrors The Hyppo's respect, Sarah and myself rely solely on fruits and veggies to survive. With both of us being vegan for several years, we have a personal connection to the health aspects of everything we painted onto the wall. The recognizable forms of fruit and veggies are not readily visible at the cafe, so we wanted to promote the real, nutritious, and life-changing plant-based ingredients that make up the power of a Hyppo pop and decadent food of the cafe.