Thursday, October 4, 2012

Live Mural Painting, Funk N. Waffles, 727 South Crouse Ave, Friday October 5 & Saturday October 6 2012

Been off the Art Freak Beat for a few preparing to put up or shut up and big time: Artists Nathaniel West, Ty Marshal and myself have been invited to transform the front side hall of musician Adam Gold's eatery Funk N Waffles in the 727 block alley of South Crouse Ave. on the Syracuse University hill. As noted in a previous blog entry from August 30, our presence at painter Tommy Lincoln's reception for his exhibition at Funk N Waffles resulted in an offer from Adam to do something. 

Nate has had a mural in mind all along but I only struck upon the idea after the live murals event on Varrick St. for the Utica Greens Fest on September 15. At first I was only interested in showing some of my paintings but this is a killer opportunity to do something significant at a place of great significance to me, at an earlier stage of my life: Right in the former back hallway of Hungry Charley's, the diner's main sitting room the location of the former back bar. Right at home indeed.

Several variables are different this time -- We're indoors, there won't be the mayhem of a rock music festival including an endless stream of onlookers, something both Nate and I acknowledged feeding off of when discussing how absolutely incredible an experience it was after. And in strict non-Vulcan English this probably wouldn't qualify as much of a "live mural" happening. Just three capable artists in their 30s to 40s taking advantage of an offer to do something more or less public.

We're not expecting onlookers so much as curious glances but who knows. It's defo party season on the SU hill, if there is one anymore, and Chuck's upstairs just found itself a new owner. Funk N Waffles itself is no snoozer either and we've been told to expect live music, a DJ and maybe even some dancing in the dining area proper. We'll be in a hallway leading off the foyer area and at best a quick distraction from those enjoying the scene, rather than the mob of gob-smacked humans we devoured the energy from in Utica. But we're hoping!

A view from just inside of Funk N Waffles' dining zone looking into the foyer, with the steps from the 700 Crouse alley to the left of the gumball machine. The paintings are by Tommy Lincoln, who has expressed an interest in tackling one of the walls in mural form in a subsequent rotation of artists.

Standing in the foyer by the gumball machine looking more or less west down the hall; Our zone begins after the purple doorjam.

A view from from the purple doorjam -- Nathaniel West will be executing a mural sized version of his painted forms on the right wall, Ty Marshal will be doing something as yet unknown on the left wall, while I will be going for broke on the green wall at the end of the hall here. Of additional intrigue is an offer by both myself and Nate  have invited  Ty to collaborate in some way with their mural designs using his trademark pink clouds.

A view back down the hall with my surface behind the viewer; Nate West will be doing the right side, Ty Marshal has been offered to have a go at the right (though as of the time of this posting we are unsure what the Funk N Waffles management's paramaters are). An alternate scheme is to hang wall art from it and make a case for track lighting.

My wall at the end -- Next to the red section is what used to be the lower exit from Chuck's by the front pool table. Perfect.

My idea is to adapt & enlarge what I know refer to as the Utica Mural's design, focusing on working out the "ground" level and having Ty do his pink clouds in the region which a sky would occupy. As all three of us have several other projects pending our original plan was to paint Friday October 5th and Saturday 4pm and then Saturday from 12pm until Funk N Waffles closes at 4pm with the goal being having the muraling completed by midnight Saturday (errr, Sunday morning) when they close. Nate and I are good for the duration, Ty will join us when he can.

In preparation for this I took a week or so and tried out variations on the form to try and arrive at a method by which the mural could be created almost by process, or in stages, and with as efficient a use of materials as possible. Fortunately the wall is more or less smooth & as fate may have it already painted with the same shade of taupe green the board I was supplied with in Utica had been primed. Overall length was about 21 feet with a standard 12-14 foot high ceiling. My bet is that the heavy duty painting will be completed Friday night and Saturday an extended detailing session with Ty adding his clouds on either night as his overbooked schedule permits.

Here's some of the practice boards, some of which will be shown in Utica with the Varrick St, mural and in Hamilton at our Broad Street Gallery starting next week. Though at this time none of these is in what I regard as a "completed" state except the Varrick St. mural.

The original prototype vision of the design which I called The Drone Zone, painted for the most part between June and late August this summer, with some alterations done while muddling through this project. Still unfinished! but it was shown for a very fun day out in Hamilton at the Broad Street Gallery while I did my gallery duties.

The Utica Mural or Varrick St. mural, as documented by Rome based photographer Kathy Bortoff Stockbridge, painted in just under five hours on September 15. I had been considering a version of The Drone Zone which paid more attention to the city since the end July but seriously had not planned to do this at all until on site for the live event. It came to me on the spot and currently I rank it amongst my strongest efforts as a painter. In the order in which these were done this would be #2.

#3, done on a length of found unprimed composite chip board plywood which just happened to have more or less the same dimensions as The Drone Zone. Started on about September 26.

#4, also done on composite plywood chip board and an attempt to condense the motif into the dimensions which would roughly fit the wall surface at Funk N Waffles. Started on about September 29.

#5, done on a large sheet of 2 ply foam core in part to become used to painting the image on a relatively smooth surface: All of the versions done prior had been executed on surfaces which had varying degrees of texture. Hoping to finish at least this one off by start time Friday and plan to exhibit it in Utica with the Varrick St. mural at the Bleecker Street location. Started on October 2nd.

#6, and by happy coincidence once again in more or less the same elongated dimension of the original Drone Zone effort. The others I want pretty much finalized before setting foot in Funk N Waffles Friday to paint -- This one I am going to take my time with! Nice pine wood plyboard with an interesting warp to it that sort of bows outward.

One thing which has changed while working the image is the importance of the city design, which starting in #5 sat on the side of a lake with another city on the far side. #6 has the city almost stretching around the lake now, and any effort to depict a real world Earthbound setting has been jettisoned: This is now a scifi type image and likely responding to Syracuse artist Fred Wellner's amazing canvases from the Szozda Gallery's "Summer Medley" show. 

Fred Wellner, Szozda Gallery

Look it up on my previous posts for more of Fred's work! a studio visit with him is long overdue. I knew those things were time bombs just waiting to go off in me head. And then I saw this at the Westcott St. Cultural Fair on September 23 ...

Arianna Lynch, Collection of the Artist

Blend the two together, dumb it down to Homer Simpson painting and that's my current motif.
Just givin propz where it's due, see you Friday!

UPDATE: As no music act was booked for Saturday October 6 Funk N Waffles will be closing at their regular 4pm time so expect to see us there from 12 noon until four.


  1. Steve, ee are excited to be having you fellas! I got your message, sorry I didn't get back to you. We've been getting the restaurant prepared for parents weekend this weekend. Expect a crowd!! marty from over at the Funk

  2. Apologies for the typos from my mobile device.

  3. You rule Marty!!!!! see you tomorrow, ready to make it happen.