Everyone wants to leave their mark on the world, and last week I got my chance.
Last weekend I got the incredible opportunity to leave my mark on Wausau, WI. I was one of 20 artists that were chosen to participate in a four-day mural competition. My proposal was to be created on The Glass Hat, a really cool, artsy bar that is actually pretty historic, being established in the late 1800’s. Little to say I was STOKED. I had so many cool ideas to make a really cool mural that would play on the brick of the building and the love of old 1950’s bikes of the owner, all while looking like the thing had been there for years. And although I felt very confident, I mean I painted in college and placed in the city’s annual Chalkfest just two months earlier (read more here), I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
For starters it’s a mural. That thing is there literally until the building becomes too old and collapses or the owner decides they hate it and paints over it…which leads us to the second major freak out…what happens if the owner of The Hat (what us cool kids call The Glass Hat, that’s right I’m cool) doesn’t like it. Neither of these problems really hit me until one in the morning, the night before the competition, after I sent the owner my third design, to none of which she seemed overly excited for. The fear that I may do all this work to have it painted over the next week was REAL.
From that everything just started to seem like the end of the world: I hadn’t bought my paint yet and the contest was literally starting; I couldn’t take off an extended time off of work; people were probably finishing theirs’ day one and I wouldn’t get a chance to start; I was an idiot and signed up for a 5k in the middle of the contest in a city a half an hour away; I had no ladder to even reach the wall I was painting…you get the picture…there was a lot of panicking.
I was in it though. Maybe not “in it to win it,” but I was not bailing no mater how freaked out I was. Before I knew it, it was Thursday—
Part of me wasn’t even planning on starting on the first day: I didn’t have a ladder, it was suppose to storm, and I wasn’t getting off of work till 5:00pm. Then on my walk to work, at ten in the morning, I saw people working…some looked to be almost half way through. So I decided to put on my big girl pants, find a ladder and get sometime down. Turns out 5ft plus 4ft is not enough to work on an almost 8’x8′ mural; but I somehow got my corners plotted for the piece.
Come Day 2, I was just determined to get my frame and backwash in. Luckily another of my wonderful friends lent me a second ladder, this one 6 feet tall. Things got a lot easier and I only kinda felt like I was going to die…however not long after starting, a co-worker appeared, made fun of me for being a klutz, and then reappears with a 14 foot ladder. At the end of the day I stepped back feeling confident in my new ladder and accomplishing what I set out to accomplish…and then I looked around. Seeing the murals already finished or coming together from my fellow artists sent me into yet another panic; but the sun was setting and there was a Friday fish-fry calling my name.
So remember how I said that I signed up for a 5k in the middle of this contest like a crazy person…well I ran it, rocked it (kinda, I finished), and then sped back to Wausau to start my mural at almost 3:00pm. I was so behind all the other artists. Here I was with my box as this just beautiful portrait sits finished to my right and a friggin galaxy is being created on my left. The panic was back and in full force.
Don’t worry though, I had the help and support of my boyfriend to get me through. And by help, he brought be water, carried the ladder, and then sat out in the sun with his Game Boy Advance playing Pokemon literally the entire time…
By the end of the day, I was completely exhausted. Running 3 miles and then climbing a ladder all day in the hot sun isn’t really a fun thing (killed that Weekend Warrior challenge though). I was, however, feeling better about the wall. With the text and base coat down for my subject matter, an early morning of touch-ups and finalizing the background seemed very accomplish-able.
DAY 4 — FINAL DAY OF CONTEST:
You know all those times you say you are going to get an early start on something and then just don’t? These were not one of those times. HA. In all honesty, day four was just a cake walk. Something just clicked and the piece just fell together.
Somehow, even being behind the ENTIRE WEEKEND, I was one of the artists that actually finished by the 1:00pm deadline. The next two hours the participants got to walk around, see the other murals, and then vote for our favorites. Finally the time came to announce the top three…and I was not one of them, however both pieces on either side of me were which was really cool because both defiantly deserved the awards. To see all of the murals and read more on the event, check out this photo album and story my super cool reporter friend put together: here.
In the end I didn’t care. Yes, it would have been nice to win; but I made something I was really, really happy with, and that the owner was even more happy with than I. I made something that is going to be there forever (well I hope forever). Just a week later, the weekend has already opened up new doors for me through the new, amazing people I met. It has reminded how much I love to paint, and continues to remind me how much I love this community and the opportunities it has given me to push myself to be a better self.
With that: all the days of planning, 3 ladders, 100 dollars in painting supplies, and 16 hours hanging out in alley next to The Glass Hat…here’s the final piece.
I would also like to take the time to thank all the wonderful, amazing, and inspirational people that made this weekend possible:
First and foremost both Gisy and Downtown Wausau’s River District for creating this awesome experience
John from Hallman Lindsay’s “Ask an Expert” and everyone from that store who put up with my multiple stop-ins for paint and supplies
Lora, Blake, Penny, and Mike for all lending me their ladders…sorry for the one’s I haven’t returned yet…
Joey for carrying said ladders; bringing me food, water, soda, coffee; putting up with all my craziness; and getting sunburned just to cheer me on
Everyone who helped out during the event to provide entertainment, make sure we are fed, and offer their buildings to be painted…you all rock.
Everyone who came by to say hello and check out the event, especially those who donated (and voted for me…kidding)
Finally all the artists who donated their time to such a cool and unforgettable experience
Also to all of you that took the time to read my story 🙂
RIDING OUTSIDE THE LINES.