Friday, October 28, 2011

The partial story of the mural at the Independence location of Melt Bar and Grilled

Here are some pictures from July through September of 2011 of the creation and installation of my most recent mural for Melt Bar and Grilled. This is Melt's third location, and the mural that owner Matt Fish challenged me to do was bigger than anything I'd ever concieved of doing. It's 14 feet tall and 56 feet wide with a 10 foot by 20 foot vintage WMMS billboard in the middle. Basically, 600 square feet of art. Like I said, I've never ever thought about doing something so huge. It was an insane challenge and with only 3 months to complete it, I knew I had my work cut out for me. Towards the end of the project, I felt like I was on some sort of Bataan Death March; I felt like Paul Sheldon from Misery. (although Matt Fish is much nicer than Annie Wilkes...) I was basically living at the warehouse where I was drawing, sleeping on a mat in the corner, working 24 hours and sleeping six and then working another 24 and losing my mind. My left eye started twitching uncontrollably at one point, but I kept drawing. Knee went out? Kept drawing.

When we were installing it, I had been up for 36 hours, high on polyurethane fumes and walleyed from who knows how many pots of coffee. I'll start more or less at the beginning, though, and talk about this picture:

This is the rig I constructed and screwed to the wall so I could attach six 4 foot by 8 foot panels at a time, so I could draw as much of the shit at once as I possibly could.

Here are some photos of the very beginnings:

This was the "main section". The idea was to have the usual array (and then some) of Clevelanders crawling over huge piles of old signs and ruined buildings. I did about a month of research at the photo archive at the downtown library (an amazing resource) and on the internet. I wanted the signs to be from long gone and defunct Cleveland businesses. You'll probably never know the thrill of finally finding a good picture of the Jean's Funnyhouse sign, but trust me: it's better than crack. And I've smoked some crack. Really.  I collected maybe 1,000 images, all of which I printed out for possible use.

Here's a close up of that last pic:

So, I'd "finish" the bottom row of panels, remove them, move the top one down and put a blank row on top:

How fucking fascinating is that? I mean, WOW, right?

This (above) is a picture of the top of the main section, nearly finished. Like I said, I'd never even conceived something this large, and I had to really force myself to figure out about 1,000 little things every day. It really was the hardest work I've ever done. (...And I've worked construction, I've worked picking grapes for 12 hours a day and I've done demolition to the point where I swung a sledgehammer until I couldn't lift my arms, and worst of all, I'VE WORKED IN CUSTOMER SERVICE...) I've never been more exhausted from a job, but I went to sleep every night thinking about what I was gonna do tomorrow. But who cares?

Here are some pictures from the installation:

And that's the mural on the wall.

To really Grok it, you have to go there. I'd say just go there and look at it and then eat at Melt. If you see movies at the Valley View Cinema, I'd say go an hour early and spend the deficit at Melt looking at this mural. Just say "Jake said it was OK to just come here and look." This is my greatest creation, my masterpiece and my final statement on four or five different things.

Would you like to see a picture of the whole mural up on the wall? Tough shit. Go there. No picture could do it justice. I'll leave you with this:

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