Friday, May 11, 2012

I Painted the 34th Street Wall!

I wanted to do something a little crazy for my 32nd birthday.  Inspired by this month's issue of Juxtapoz (May 2012), I decided to paint my first ever street art mural.  This would become my first mural, my first public art, my first street art, and I knew the perfect place to do it.

You see, there's a special wall in Gainesville called the 34th St Wall; it's pretty famous around here, and even has a Wikipedia page:

The magic of the 34th St Wall is that painting it is accepted!  Graffiti, graduation announcements, fraternities, proposals, all kinds of painting are allowed on this wall!  It's an unwritten law in Gainesville that, in this spot, residents can express themselves without fear of punishment. 

While the majority of the paint on the wall (the layers are several inches thick) is in the form of congratulations, tagging, and other graffiti, I decided to paint a mural.  I started on May 2nd, the day after my birthday, and planned to work until May 3rd; two full days of painting!  But as most things go, I ended up taking four days in total to finish this project.

One reason it took four days is that I had no idea how exhausting it would be!  May is not necessarily the ideal month to paint outdoors in Florida.  And I learned on day one that the middle of the day was not a good time to paint.  The heat added to the exhaust of the continual traffic passing by...1:30PM-4:30PM was out.  So I got up as early as possible and set out to paint as much as I could by the time it got to be too hot.  Then, after a quick siesta, I would be back to paint until sundown.  Long days, but SO FUN!
I met some interesting people over those four days, including one professional and several amateur photographers who have made it their continuing project to record what is painted on the wall.  Others just stopped to look and make encouraging remarks.  Still others shouted from their cars or honked as they drove by...though not all the shouts were pleasant! :)

The entire experience was extremely rewarding and educational.  I had no idea what I was going to paint when I arrived, the whole mural was completely intuitive.  By the evening of the first day, I realized that we should be filming!  So we did.  Please enjoy the pictures and video below.

Here's the sign I posted below the mural.  The wall being what it is, I know that my mural will soon be covered by taggers and others who want the space.  I thought maybe the signs would buy me some time :)  I hope you enjoyed seeing the pictures and the video, and if you live in the Gainesville area, swing by and have a look!