Johann Wessels
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mural part 1

Posted: May 11, 2012

mural part 1

Phew... time can fly...

Back here and able to write some blog again. I have been working on a mural for a new winery, Upper Bench Winery and Creamery. I had seen this building with a sign indicating that the place was being renovated and would become a new winery venue. I had little hope that anything too impressive would result, as is too often the case. I watched it get fixed up and stucco go on the walls ... things were happening.

I wondered if they might be open to some artistic input and kept thinking it for a while without actually doing anything about it. Too easy to drive by and just wonder. No rejection in the act of daydreaming.

And then one day I realised that no one wins the lottery without buying a ticket. Actually I had realised it a long time ago and had been too inert to go and "buy a ticket". I'm still not sure what exactly triggered me to stop at the building and find an open door. But I did.

I met Gavin, the winemaker and he seemed keen on the idea of a mural. I was surprised at his enthusiasm. Happily so . I tried to give him some kind of idea of what I could do and tried to glean from him what they might want. He needed some time to speak to his partners and some time passed with occasional emails and I hoped the project would eventually happen.

The initial process is slow and tentative and I tried to stay patient and listen to what they wanted. They emailed some images they had seen and we began coming up with thoughts about what the subject matter might be. I took photos of the exterior of the building and began by drawing digitally onto the photos. Thats the image at the top of this story.

Gavin and Shana make wine and cheese respectively and I was almost immediately struck by their enthusiasm and passion for what they do. They bring a unique personal involvement to everything they do...detail and fine tuning and care. I wanted to show their personal down to earth approach in the kinds of images that would be on the building. It seemed so completely natural that this would be the way to go about it.

Their other partner, Tessa also brought more thoughts and ideas to the mix and we worked back and forth via emails, me showing new images and them directing it with their suggestions and thoughts. I started seeing smiles and anticipatory flickers in their eyes and realised that this was actually going to happen.

I realised that they had no idea of who I was or what I might be able to do. I may as well have been a travelling salesman selling synthetic snake oil. They had no way of knowing that I was capable of anything. I was still rather new in town and had very little to show. They showed great faith and courage in letting me loose on the exterior of their precious new building.

Keep in mind that this is a stucco finished building...there is no way to paint over mistakes. They were gambling quite an outcome.

We got the city to approve the never knows what lewd and awful things artists might commit and the city requires some kind of proof of what will be in full public view. The winery is right on a busy road.

Then it was time for the paint to meet the stucco.

Trepidation and sheer stage fright... but thats something for the next blog.

Hoarknockle has been overjoyed at meeting Gavin and Shana. He has been getting all kinds of ideas about how to restock and stack my rare wine collection in the cellar. And the aromas of powerful cheeses is evident from the kitchen.