Murals

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· Allen House, my first mural.
· In the Kitchen, a mural at Hunters Point Shipyard.
· Amateur Artists’ Day, in the lands east of San Francisco.
· Through the Tunnel to Honey Hill, a residential mural project.
· Mural Painting at Cowden Automotive, in a business setting.
· Can You See It From the Moon
· Getting the Word Out
· Ongoing and Upcoming

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Allen House

My first two murals live only in memory. The earlier of the two was painted in the attic servants’ quarters of Allen House my senior year of college at the University of Vermont. At the time, I was teaching in the children’s art program at the Fleming Museum. A roll of heavy paper beckoned. It was about 40 inches wide. I cut off a 12 or 14 foot length and brought it, together with red, yellow, green, and blue tempera paint, back to Allen House, my dorm.

The two room servants’ quarters had its own flight of stairs up from the second floor. When we shut the door at the bottom of the stairs,

The four of us who shared the two rooms had our own domain. We spread the paper out and got to work.

Each color was poured liberally into pie tins. We stepped into the paint, creating the mural with our feet. A good time was being had by all when Marcy slipped, delivering a life sized blue swath of foot, leg, and rump to the middle of the mural. After assuring ourselves that Marcy wasn’t hurt, we looked at the damage, finding the composition vastly improved. A few yellow, red, and green footprints on top of the blue and we were done.

We sat surveying our accomplishments until the tempera on our feet and up Marcy’s side dried. Bathrooms were on the second floor. We did not want to leave a trail of paint for our stern house mother to discover. She had already threatened to take all my tubes of watercolor, which she called a "fire hazard." According to her wisdom, only oil paint came in tubes. Oils were mixed with turpentine, creating a fire hazard, etc. etc.

When the tempera paint dried, we crept downstairs. It was after 10 p.m., the cutoff time for using showers. Showering late at night woke up the girls whose rooms were back to back with the shower stalls. So we washed in the sinks, giggling at the sight of our ungainly postures as one foot, then the other, got washed in the small lavatory basins.

I don’t know what happened to that mural. It was ahead of its time in terms of using body parts as paint brushes and did not find a supportive site for exhibition. Its importance was in the spontaneity and fun of it, qualities that pervade all my mural work.

Tanya at work on her
Mt. San Bruno mural.
Photo: Bob Arnold

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