In Denver, this is to date, the larges mural created in the city. It stood 140 feet tall and 180 feet wide. It was up for about 15 years on Stout Street off 14th across from the performing arts center before the building was demolished and turned into an Embassy Suites Hotel across from the now famous Blue Bear playing hide and seek.
This project was part of the city youth program where we took high school kids to teach them various careers, mine was as a mural artist. 12 youth were selected and to only find out because of youth labor laws, none of them would be able to get on the lift above 10 feet to help with the mural so I ended up doing it with only one other person, Dame, who happened to be old enough.
The whole project took about 120 gallons of black paint hand rolled on the wall to prime and almost 10,000 cans of spray paint.
Some fun facts about this project include:
- Some anti art activists were keeping track of me at various mural projects including this one. Each time they would call the police to make sure we had permits, permission, etc. Each time was worse and worse. This time, they found out about an obscure law that someone could not be in possession of more than 8 cans of spray paint as it would be considered “possession of materials intended to vandalize property.” I was arrested and taken to jail three times for this very serious offense and charges were dismissed in court in all three cases.
- When we began painting the black paint in order to prime the wall to get it ready, it just so happened that a car dealership was using the parking lot next door to store some very expensive BMW fully loaded something or other that cost a ton of money. Needless to say in the three days it took to paint it, the wind picked up and blew our black one coat paint all over the cars (no other cars in the lot for some crazy reason) and turned those shinny gems into a matt black mess. Good for us, our insurance was not only paid up, but the owner of the building we were painting had loads of experience in this area AND owned a nice detail shop that was able to make them good as new. Whew.
- There was controversy over the ballerina-dude I painted. In my reference photo he had either an amazingly large package, or wearing a sports cup. Who knows? But I was asked a dozen times to keep making it smaller and smaller because it was offensive to some to have such a feature on a guy in the mural. It ended up looking more like a girl with big shoulders in my opinion.
- At this time I was pretty proud of the fact I would sketch and paint on such a giant wall without the use of grids or projectors to get my scaling right. I have to admit to having some issues with this, but good thing for my experience growing up painting choo-choo trains I still managed to make it happen.
- I was still a little hesitant of heights at this point. Even with all the safety equipment. I did however get through it and pushed through leaving all my fears behind for future project. This and being kicked out of an airplane just years earlier in the Army, my height anxiety disappeared all-together.