A two storey exploration of discovery, growth, and light.
My largest project to date, created for the Taylor & Company law firm. Funded in part by the Grande Prairie Downtown Association's Art in the Alley grant program.
This photo journal includes several of my written statements, photographs taken by my contributors as well as commissioned photographs from Isert's Originals.
Photo credit: Travis Isert
This mural was commissioned through the Taylor & Company law office in partnership with the Downtown Association of Grande Prairie.
The proposal for this project was just under the wire for the "Art in the Alley" grant program in which the Downtown Association provided funds to business looking to install murals in the alleys of the downtown core. Many artworks were done in the summer of 2019 and can be found in the alleys directly adjacent to 100th (Richmond) Ave and 99th Ave.
By the time our proposal was approved, the summer of 2019 was drawing to a close and there wasn't enough time to begin work. The planning began for the spring of 2020.
I hadn't the slightest inkling of what was to come the following year.
Massive thanks go out to the parties that helped make this project a reality.
Especially, I must thank Wendy. Her incredible efforts through the Downtown Association have helped to revitalize the core and her determination shows every time I visit the downtown core.
Because I nearly missed out on the Art in the Alley project window, Wendy asked me to put up a teaser as a space marker. It was already getting chilly but a couple afternoons resulted in this tiny garden. I knew I wanted the mural to feature a lot of life and light.
The second photo is my earliest draft of the whole project. I had to come up with an idea really quickly so I kept the concept loose, to be developed over the winter as I waited for good weather.
This mural is 764 square feet; it's 2 storeys tall and 4 parking spaces wide. It's double my previously largest project.
The old cinderblock soaked up 9 gallons of primer. After that, an estimated 8 gallons of paint followed by 6 gallons of top coats.
Thanks to an unforeseen pandemic, the paint was backordered over 8 weeks. Once I got started, the painting itself took 8 weeks to complete. I was still tattooing full time so I squeezed in every hour I could before and after clients and on my days off. Some sessions were only 20 minutes, since we have such predictable weather; some were 13 hours. In total, I spent around 300 hours on site.
I prepared 23 templates in addition to the whole design. 7 people helped with application. 3 other people helped on the ground.
Planning my work schedule meant diligently monitoring weather. I was rained out usually 1-2 times a week. Using the paint sprayer was problematic with winds over 30 km/h and it was common for the parking lot to experience gusts of 60 km/h. The last stretch of this project was a race against the cold and I had a 10 degree deadline. Thanks to the record-breaking mild autumn, we applied varnish in early November on a 13 degree day. After factory delays and weather delays, the scaffold had been set up for 21 weeks.
I'm astonished every day that this project had as much success as it did, considering the volley of obstacles and challenges.
To start off the new year, I think discussing the themes of this painting are appropriate.
Articulating the meaning of each element of this painting may not be possible. There were several great influences that urged the development of this mural in specific ways that I can discuss.
Discovery. Growth. Light.
First and foremost, The Invitation is a literal expression. What I hoped to achieve is the creation of a beacon to engage the community and to draw them inward. It's a presentation of opportunity and an invitation to experience something greater. The past few years for the downtown community have been an upheaval for the purpose of a better way forward. The work of the Downtown Association, the City of Grande Prairie and other organizations has been determined to create an environment downtown of which people can feel proud, where strong aesthetics and harmony draw us closer to the core. My hope is that this mural engages everyone and provides a lure for those who have never considered the core of the city a beloved place. For those of us who exist in the midst of it, we can see the value for our community and our challenge has been to communicate that to the population-at-large. This painting invites everyone to truly experience what this place can offer us if we are willing to take the first steps forward.
Without the weight of everything I hope this painting can accomplish, at face value, it is an escapist fantasy. If nothing else, it is a tapestry of growth; a reminder of what a fertile environment is capable of becoming. The growth elemental is the embodiment of unlimited potential and demonstrates that growth is possible in every direction, in every space.
Finally, a path through. There is no indication of what lies in the ultimate beyond but there is a clear path forward for those willing to take the steps.
Thank you to everyone who appreciates this work. Technically, I did it for you. Given the visibility of this mural, I wanted primarily to create something that the community would enjoy looking at and find comfort within.
The project would have been insurmountable without the selfless dedication of many key helpers. The various deeds are almost countless and range from back-end logistics, material procurement and setup to template application, painting and supper runs to ensure I didn't drop dead on the scaffold. My team kept me alive, motivated and functional. Without them, the Invitation would not exist.
Dad - Ty
Bryan - Chris
Kristen - Shannon
Shauna - Tyler
Additional and massive thanks are due to Glenn of Taylor & Company for the commission, Wendy of the Downtown Association for helping us to secure our Art in the Alley project grant, and to Caitlyn of Card's Board Game Cafe for gifts of appreciation to my helpers.