Mural & Large Scale
Public, Private, Commercial
I kind of fell into it...
... and it don't stop!
In 1992, when my painting mentor,
Jim Richard, recommended me to paint at Royal Artists, Inc., a Mardi Gras parade float manufacturer in New Orleans, I had no idea that murals would make up so much of my portfolio.
I have been fortunate to work on many projects with my friends, Richard Harrison and Rebecca VanOrnam, of A Midsummer's Mural, and street artist Hugo Zamorano, especially on the South Omaha Mural Project, with our good friend and local historian, Gary Kastrick.
All together, we have painted over twenty public murals since 2011.
We do public/community, private and commercial projects; from realistic representations to pure abstraction.
The Leavenworth Corridor
Midtown Omaha is ripe for murals as it transforms from the remains of its former heyday into a revived, still local economy. See the Triangulation video below for more about why we do these murals and see some of the other artists making this happen. Currently, there are about a dozen murals along this stretch of Leavenworth and heading downtown. We have done six of them. They're on and mostly for local businesses, non-profits, veterans, Art.
the Triangulation mural
Russ, Jeff, Me, Dave
Russ, Larry, Jeff, Me, Marty
13 days of work
This is the first public art project on which Richard Harrison and I worked together. We were contacted by Sarah Tracey, who founded StartLab to engage artists in local art projects, while she worked with Urban Village, for which we've done a few projects. Joining with the Ford Birthsite Neighborhood Assoc., we received two Omaha Mayor's Grants and funding from the Nebraska Arts Council. Visiting Artist Linda Garcia guided Jackson Elementary students in creating papel picado designs, which were integrated into the mural. Avanza was the name of the latin supermarket on which the mural depicts produce often found in such markets. READ news story.
I felt a need to promote pure design as a useful member of the mural gallery developing in the city. This project was funded through crowd-sourcing on Kickstarter, which paid for labor of first-time muralists.
Special thanks to Dave, Russ, Larry, Jeff, Noah, Rhianna and Nicole!
Leavenworth Arts District – See Video below from the Triangulation Project. The idea is to promote both the small businesses in this area of Omaha and also the artists beautifying it.
4314 Leavenworth St.
Other Leavenworth & Midtown Murals
Antique Float at Jim's Seek and Save
2013 NSX at Exclusive Honda
Freedom! at VFW
Urban Village on Farnam St.
Cut-outs & Installations
Painting Mardi Gras parade floats at Royal Artists, Inc., in New Orleans, brought me to large scale painting - and to the use of cut-outs. I worked there from 1992-94, in my early twenties. We attached painted, cut-out images to the floats using wire so that they would jiggle down the street and animate the main scenes.
This led me to create my first jigsaw-cut piece, "Notary", in 1994. I hand-cut four free-standing screens in graduate school. Now, I have Prism Signs cut them on a CNC router. Thanks, Curt! We expanded to using clear acrylic, laser-cut after printing on its surface, for luminous effects on smaller pieces. My goal is large-scale, plasma-cut installations. The aesthetic carries into studio stencil work and even into traditional mural compositions.
Panels can be abutted vertically and horizontally to create screen walls or relief installations.
Benson Plant Rescue
A special community project for a great organization! Over 80 people helped paint the first set at the Benson Theater Project. It was the first to feature the cutouts, which I returned to after 20 years. There are now 32 panels, each 4×8′ tall, installed as two free-standing, 164′ long shade screens at Benson Plant Rescue, 7224 Maple St. Omaha. Mayor’s Grant recipient (phase 1).
Each serves communities in need.
This project involved the brainstorming and printing of stencil designs by Completely Kids youth, which were then projected onto parachute cloth and painted either by the group, or by artist, Julie Sopsack and myself. These were cut-out and installed in Together's pantry. I followed that with the production of a suite of seven prints, five of which were CMYK process color versions of the original designs. Together and Completely Kids received two prints of each - one for keeps and the other for auction or donors.
Nostrovia Mural Videos
More South Omaha Mural Projects
Go to SOMP homepage for detailed information on each project.
The South Omaha Mural Project
is a series of ten community-based murals dreamed up by Gary Kastrick. They depict the culture, history, and ethnic heritage of groups that settled in South Omaha neighborhoods. Already completed murals include the “Magic City” at 24th & N streets, about the vital, infinite loop of immigration into the area, and the Lithuanian-themed,“Sieninis Paveikslas,“ on the Lithuanian Bakery at 5217 S 33rd Ave.; the Mexican themed “Del Futuro Al Pasado” on the El Mercado Building at 4907 s. 25th st. the Polish Themed “Nostrovia” on Dinker’s bar at 2368 S. 29th St. the Croatian Mural, “Zajednica” on 36th and W, and the 150th anniversary of Nebraska mural, “Nebraska Odyssey” on 36th and Q.
Each mural we do is designed through a process of four community meetings and four design work meetings, that include discussion and artistic exercises concerning the identity, culture, and heritage of the particular community we are working with for that neighborhood of South Omaha. Once the designs are completed, the artists prepare the walls for community paint days. When the murals are completed, live music and food commemorate the work of the artists and community members. In the years to come the murals will enhance the neighborhoods and create an overall appreciation for the unique history of South Omaha. The murals are and will be a highlight on regular bus tours of the area that include commentary by the historian Gary Kastrick.
The Polish heritage mural, called "Nostrovia!, was painted in the Summer of 2016 on Dinker's Pub and Grill - home of Nebraska's Best Burger. As part of the South Omaha Mural Project, it celebrates the life experience of this ethnic group in the cultural melting pot of South O. The design was projected (see video below) and rendered in a yellow and Red under-painting, which was later glazed over in colors. Members of the Polish Home were a huge help in deciding the content and were great fun to work with. The folks at Dinker's were great. Special thanks to the Nebraska Arts Council and the Polish Home for our funding and Grant Reed for the lights!
How things work out!
Little did we know that after Itzel Lopez painted in my mural class, that we would paint two exterior murals, three signs (two cut out), a mini mural and a food truck for her family's business! Look for them downtown and at parties!
It was also, by referral of a client, that we found a space at Prism Signs to paint the truck during the winter. This was when I realized that I could design cutouts for the CNC router to produce.
Metropolitan Community College
Waves of Immigration
MCC South Campus, 2014
Created by students in two MCC classes, Richard Harrison, Rebecca VanOrnam and I, this mural runs 264 lineal feet, at 3300 square feet. At the time, it was our biggest project and the second largest in Omaha. It overviews the history of South Omaha, formed through Waves of Immigration.
Big Thanks to the MCC Foundation, Nebraska Arts Council, the Omaha Community Foundation, the Jetton Charitable Fund and BVH Architects for sponsoring this project of epic proportion. Special thanks to the MCC students who participated in both stages of the project and to the list of volunteers, supporters and collaborators without whom this mural would not be here today.
MCC South Omaha Campus, 27th & Q sts.