How do you take a photograph of the whole ocean?
How do you pack your belongings for a life long trip?
How do you reach the far off mountain peak?
How do you paint your visions on a giant wall?
You just do it. Just begin in some small way and don’t stop until you feel fulfilled.
Most of my dreams consist of me in a large group setting — a summer camp, a convention, a job with a lot of people working alongside myself. There are usually many levels and staircases and then somehow I find myself isolated. I also dream often about teeth being gone or my beard falling out. I wake up afterwards and think about how it was all was just a dream — my beard is still here with me. Sometimes I relive certain things I have done in the past but now I feel like it is more treacherous than it was then— such as walking on a cliff’s edge or a sharp mountain ridge.
High in a building in Midtown Atlanta, Maria (WhiteCatTips) and I painted a mural in the almost completed NCR World Headquarters building. A freight elevator dangled high above the concrete floor. Looking down through the slot between the door and the landing and you can see hundreds of feet down. At the time it seemed comfortable. Later you might think about being a little too slim and slipping through the 3 inch wide crack in the floor. No one fell through the slot in the floor but we did spend a good handful of visits painting on the 16th floor.
The views were amazing to me. We could see weather approaching. We could see far-off mountains. We could see hawks circling around the high-rises. We could see the stream of traffic below us, slowing to a crawl as the sun went down. We could see construction workers on the adjacent building working and looking back at us. We waved. The wind whipped and howled around and below. We stayed up high and painted.
A painting can go so many different directions. I look back at mid-progress pictures of this project and think about all the alternate versions we could have made. The final product, after 5 and a half visits, is the way it is — locked into a laughing buck-toothed reality. It was interesting to work in a ongoing construction zone. We wore shiny vests and hard-helmets and rode the freight elevator to work. We experienced life as a construction worker for a couple weeks. We ate food in van in a parking deck, we heard dirty jokes, we watched the building moving quickly along towards completion. We made friends with the big boss men.
And one thing about those big boss men…
Phillip and Todd, the aforementioned boss men, were kind enough to help us load out our supplies when we finished the mural. As we rode down the freight elevator one last time Phillip looked over at me. He was looking out from under his hard hat, like a man staring out over the gray sea. He said,” Kyle, you keep being you. Don’t let them change you. Keep doing your thing.” I said ” Thank you sir, I will do my darndest.” I thought that was pretty special. I still do. I wonder who will try to change me.
Thanks to Anne Tracht for asking me to paint. Thanks to NCR for being open-minded enough to embrace art as a part of their brand-new building. Thanks to Todd and Phillip and Brad for taking care of us while working inside of the 20-story concrete creation. Thanks to Maria for working with me every day to make this happen. Thanks to old pup for riding in the van everyday.
This mural is about 30′ by 12′. I wish more people could get the chance to see it. I really think this is great one. We put a lot of detail work into the project. The colors are really happy and I think it was a great success.
Here is a fun tidbit— If you ever wonder where my mural is located…. count 5 windows down from the top and there you go… sweet 16. The mural is located outside of the elevator lobby on the 16th floor.
see you soon,
Kyle BlackCatTips Brooks