Beale Street Theater Mural
Midway through 2018 I started applying to national public art RFP’s & RFQ’s, (Request For Proposals and Request For Qualifications). Now that my children are in their teens and require less supervision, I feel better about traveling for work. After a few months of searching, designing, and preparing such applications, and many rejections I might add, I received my very first commission from the Kingman Main Street group in Kingman, AZ!
I spent ten incredible days there, not only painting, but seeing some of the most outstanding sites Arizona has to offer!
Kingman is known as the Heart of Route 66 because it holds the longest stretch of that historic highway. Since the 70’s, Kingman has been in a slow decline as Route 66 was less and less traveled, until the historic downtown area was all but a ghost town, relying on tourism for the most part for survival. Now, over the past 5 or 6 years, businesses have started opening up there again including two prominent breweries on the main drag, and there has been a major initiative to revitalize Beale Street in particular with new restaurants, shops, parks and public art.
While I was there I saw and met tourists from Japan, China, Korea, France, Germany and the Czech Republic. It’s incredible how people from around the world have an interest for and romanticize about the spirit of Route 66.
The Kingman Main Street group, founded a little more than a year ago, sought to create an Art Alley public art gallery running parallel to Beale Street and so posted a national Call to Artists to design and paint the first of many murals in that area. I’ve been told artists from as far away as Germany, Australia and Japan competed for this prize, over 50 applicants apparently, and they chose me and one of the many concepts I presented.
This project is so dear to my heart and I will tell you why. One reason is that it was my first successful, out of state, public art proposal, but more than that, on Sept. 11th my father passed away after a year long and painful bout with cancer. In fact I was not sure if I would be able to paint this mural because things were not looking good. As it turns out we were able to keep our schedule and I had a chance to process the loss by stepping away and having some time to think after his first memorial service in Sarasota, FL, the second being in our hometown of Ellicott City, MD. It was a therapeutic week.
My contact person for the project, Paul Gaines, and all the town actually, were so welcoming and supportive, I cannot tell you how good it felt to be cared for after pouring so much of myself out for my family over the prior weeks. Gifts, gift cards, free meals and friendships that will last beyond the scope of the project were all benefits of this experience. Once the mural was complete I spent time hiking on the local Monolith trail, the spectacular Hualapei Mountains, including Aspen Peak, elevation 7950 ft. I saw the Grand Canyon West, the Hoover Dam, was a guest on a podcast, (Cartoon Casual), even took a small 4 seater plane ride over the town and witnessed my mural from the air, compliments of Paul Gaines! It was a 100% life giving trip, one that I will always remember. Everything ran so smoothly I think the Kingman Mainstreet group was appreciative. They even held an unveiling of the mural, complete with a DJ, beer and food trucks. I can’t say enough about that experience! Thank you Kingman!!!