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August 02, 2009

Our Mural is Almost Complete!

We are so close to finishing the community mural at Mr. E's Inn on Pearl Road. Hal and Della Esterwood, the owners of the bar, asked if I could do something with their 60-foot wall that faces the Mexico Lindo restaurant near Memphis Avenue. (It used to be the old Theos restaurant for anyone who knows that intersection at State and Pearl roads.)

One of our Case student artists, Ben Meck, volunteered his time to work up the design. Ben's art professor, Tim Shuckerow, had wanted Ben to do something simple so it could translate well on the old masonry wall that lines the street near Pearl and Memphis. I asked Ben to do something that depicts Old Brooklyn in the old days, when dirt roads, farmland, and greenhouses were part of the fabric of our neighborhood.

That wall is a BIG wall, so we had a lot of work to do over the summer to get this project rolling. On June 12, the Summer Fellows from the Case Western Reserve University Center for Civic Engagement and Learning traveled to Old Brooklyn to powerwash the wall and scrape it, to get rid of all the peeling paint that had collected over the years. (A special shout out to Mike T. who let me borrow his power washer for this project.) I returned a few days later to spackle all the holes and finish scraping the wall.

Then, on June 27, the fellows returned to Old Brooklyn to condition the wall and seal it so we could cover the wall with acrylic paint. (Thanks to the folks over at Sherwin Williams who are guiding me in my efforts to choose the right paint!) We had 14 students that day, and half of them traveled to Brooklyn Centre to do some landscaping and painting at the Brooklyn Memorial United Methodist Church. Hal and Della fed us and the folks at Brooklyn Memorial gave us some homemade cookies to munch on.

On July 8, I attended a meeting with Tom Collins of the OBCDC and the Near West Design and Review Committee to present the mural project, along with the Esterwoods. I was happy to see that the committee loved our idea, and in fact, asked us to make it bigger! They also suggested that we add a tribute wall with artist signatures and handprints.

So a few weeks after the meeting, I returned to the wall to paint it a nice light shade of blue, a color that will match the sky in Ben's design. Special thanks to Old Brooklyn resident Kevin Dial, who spotted me working on the wall while he was drinking his morning cup of coffee. Kevin came over, introduced himself, and picked up a brush to help me finish the work in the hot sun. He returned the next day to help finish the first coat for me, then I went back to give it a second coat a week later. (Thanks CJ, for helping me paint those hard-to-reach spots at the very top of that wall.) I also sat down with Old Brooklyn artists Andre Holt and Carolyn Anderson to get their ideas on how to tackle the painting and projecting.

We are ready to get started on the next phase, and I could really use your help. We will soon set up a digital projector to project the image on the wall and start tracing it. Please contact me if you would like to help out and have some fun. I really want this to be a community effort and Ben has given us a nice start. E-mail me if you want to paint or trace some of the image. My goal is to have the wall completed before the winter sets in ... dare I even mention the word "winter" in one breath?

P.S. - Did you know? One month after we added art to vacant storefronts back in March, three of the five buildings were rented within a month.

P.P.S. - Interesting thing about one of the Case students who got involved in our mural project. Not only does she attend Case, but her father owns Mexico Lindo, the restaurant that is located directly across from where the mural wall is being painted. Small world, don't ya think?

It's also worth mentioning all the other outdoor community projects we got involved in this summer, especially the residents of Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Center. We had Earthfest at the Cleveland Zoo, RiverSweep here in the city, and a grafitti cleanup in Harmody Park. I also enjoyed the cleanup that was organized by Darren and Johanna Hamm and the Brooklyn Center Community Association (BCCA) in preparation for the summer Archwood Street Fair. It was a great event and everyone enjoyed our gorgeous summer weather.

Posted by mcd34 at August 2, 2009 02:05 PM

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