Sunday, August 19, 2007

Local Press and a Little Controversy

So far, this has been an extremely positive experience here in Stuart, Florida. I've met tons of really nice people, and even a few questionable people....but they were the minority, for sure. Once I'm finished with this project, I plan on mentioning all those I can remember...which will be a challenge, to be sure.

Anyway, the Stuart News sent a photographer over to shoot some photos of what I've been 'up to' , pun intended. So a couple weeks ago, Matt the photographer (Matthew Ratajczak) Showed up shortly after 8 am. I'm not sure he knew what he was in for given that I had been currently painting on the East side of the building and that by 8 am, it's already extremely hot up there. I'm pleased to announce that we both survived....soaking wet, but we survived.

After several phone interviews, first with a staff intern whose name I unfortunately forgot, and then by Bill DeYoung, an article was published in the Stuart News, Martin County section. They did a great job and I probably talked to much, which shouldn't surprise anyone that knows me. The one odd thing was the headline, which went as follows....
"Double Take Reveals Murals Not Real"
Hmmmm. Think about that for a sec. As some comments suggested on the website version, the murals are actually real, it's the subject matter and elements that are not real. But maybe that's being picky, I suppose. I certainly appreciate the good press. This is yet another article that at first started out as a 'mention' until they found out what I was doing and well...if a picture is worth a thousand words, four or five pictures are even better. So thank you Stuart News, Bill DeYoung, his intern, who was very nice....we laughed a lot, and of course, Matt. To see the article as well as photos online, go here....
Skip's Article in the Stuart News
I think that it's a sort of shortened version of the original article. Don't forget to view the slide show, which was a really nice touch.

Ok...oh....the controversy. Right.

One evening, I was up on the lift, preparing the last corner of the building for painting. I heard someone calling up to me, which is a common occurrence. So I acknowledged him and he asked me where the Ashley Gang first thought was to say that they were all umm...dead. But I didn' I told him that they would be painted in the top niche of the corner I was working on....
So he asked me where I did my research and did I know that they had murdered three police officers near Miami. I didn't know that, I responded. He wondered if it was a good idea to 'glorify', in his words, a group of murderous thugs. I responded that I wasn't exactly doing that and that it was part of Stuart's history. I also asked him if he knew that after the gang had robbed the Stuart Bank, they were arrested and later allowed to escape by the sheriff . At least, that's something I read online. He shrugged and mumbled something while walking off into the sunset.
Later the next week, the very same guy wrote a letter to the editor of the Stuart News asking the same thing. So I did some research and found some interesting information.
What I looked for, thanks to friend Abby's suggestion, was info on Bonnie and Clyde stuff. It appears that towns all over Louisiana and Iowa compete for tourists, and their money, looking for info and exhibits about Bonnie and Clyde. And one in particular caught me eye. As it turns out, the town of Stuart, Iowa, community leaders are seeking a state grant for a revitalization project that includes a mural commemorating a bank robbed by Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Visitors frequently stop to photograph the site of the April 16, 1934, heist, now the town's police station. Weird, eh? I've had all kinds of strange coincidences since I've arrived here....more about those later......

Also, I received an email from the city that said...."any artwork that portrays local lore or history in the community whether it is good or bad; it is still colorful and unique to us. Having said that stay the course we are behind you all the way."

I should mention that the Lyric Theater here in Stuart has bronze stars embedded in the sidewalk at the entrance to the theater, including one for the Ashley Gang. Down the street is the Ashley Restaurant that is full of Ashley Gang memorabilia and I also found out that there was a movie made about them called "Little Laura and Big John".

The photo above shows the Ashley Gang mural in progress....I have a lot of small changes, mostly with the shadows, but there will be two more characters and more money floating down.

That's it for now.....more later....


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Stuart Murals.....some windows for you

Windows....fourteen windows. I had six of them on the west side of the building and have eight on the East side. The one below shows some clown painting something. It looks like he has his 'plans' taped to the wall.....
Funky hat, eh?

In the next window is Mark, job supervisor, keeping an eye on everything. Mark's an all around nice guy and has been really helpful since I've been here in Stuart. I suppose that a set of plans he's holding, held together by my red string, of course.
The young in the photo hanging on the wall is Mark's son.

Next we have the proverbial cat in the window. Every window needs one, so says my sister. So here it is in all it's sun-basking glory......

And last, but not least, is Patrick the painter, lowering a bucket of paint to his comrades, who you will meet later. That blue thing at the bottom is part of the lift and the vertical gray bar on the right is the plastic wire-guard on the cement electric pole. It's really tight back in this corner.

I'll post a few more window pictures later and then the Ashley Gang corner, which I've already started....

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Finishing in Stuart....ummmm....nope.

Even though this panel is quite finished, I decided to include it anyway. The reason is that I had to move my monster hydraulic lift around back. It's been parked on Osceola Ave. for I guess about 3 weeks and a few people were becoming umm...antsy. Well....only two, actually. Parking here in Stuart, just like in Sarasota, is a challenge, and I was taking up 3 spaces on what is the main street. One guy, who arrived one evening in a cool little Porsche Boxster, thought he could park UNDER the boom of the lift. Really! So I got to use the nifty little horn on the lift, since I was up in the air painting. The Boxter guy looked at me like I was asking for his car. And all of a sudden his hands were waving around like a windmill, he backed up really fast, and proceeded to find a parking space way spaces away. And it was closer to his destination, the Flagler Grill & Bar. I'm dying to try out that restaurant....maybe just before I leave here...
Anyway, Mr. Boxter jumped out of his cool little car, arms still waving while marching across the street, all the while yelling at me...I couldn't tell what his was saying though, and I didn't think it was nice that he didn't wait for the young lady that accompanied him....I think it was his grand daughter.

So....back to the mural....

The lift you see here has been moved around back to Seminole Ave. and now every one's happy but me. I had to squeeze it into a narrow space right next to a large electric pole. Seems OK, so far. Oh...the murals.....right.

So as I promised in my previous installment, I've added something to the end of our brave fisherman's line.....and of course, it's a Sailfish. Also in that panel is a replica of a letter the Stuart Chamber of Commerce used to send to companies thinking of moving here. The yellow sign, which probably really wasn't yellow, is based on an old Stuart sign and that round think is a replica of the Stuart Sailfish Club's old logo. They've been around here forever and I thought it would be appropriate that they be represented. The postcard the fish is jumping out of is my design....I'll be adding another lamp like the one you see as well as some netting...somewhere.

As for those windows to the right....I'll save those photos for later. I added some interesting characters this time. Oh....regarding those characters. A brief explanation.

The four corners of the building are intended to be the focal point, if you will, and therefore, I've saved those four areas for the historical representations, which are, Chief Osceola, Frances Langford, Sailfishing in Stuart and still to be painted, the dreaded Ashely Gang. The fourteen small windows are sort of secondary and are not intended to have any historical significance. I've used the windows to attract attention by adding figures.....people.....some in action more than others. And it so happens that for most of the windows, I used live models and some happened to be working on the site while I was there. More about the windows in my next installment....soon.


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