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Friday, February 19, 2016

The Mural

A week before, to control the fear of "big things," I told myself: "Next week it will all be done."

I was not sure how it would work, or who would help, or if I had prepared well or even enough. I only knew that I had less than 8 days to paint this big image full of words on a big wall.

I had always wanted to do a mural in my hometown, and I even published a design a few years ago. That's the way to tell the Universe "I want this." But my wishes often take a while to manifest, so almost 10 years later, I had the opportunity to realize the project.

This was not a commission, just a labor of love with a group of people who have committed themselves to preserving and enhancing the culture of this old tiny city in the southwest of Puerto Rico. I grew up there until I was 15, surrounded by it's beautiful architecture and the peacefulness of small town living. I tell my husband that if my mother didn't have to move to New York to work, I would probably never had left. I was happy there and life was good, predictable and comfortable.

The truth is I tried to go back twice, but I had already changed so much that I could not adapt. The truth is also that I am always scheming to go back, buy an old house and set up my studio there and forget New York. Dreams. Who knows, may be in 10 years?

And now there is even more waiting for me there. During this trip I met the Amigos de San Germán, Inc. group, who helped me paint and supported every step of the project. They made it fun and a true joy for the soul. Meeting them and the young artists who came to help, was one of the two big hilights of this trip. The other was visiting my elementary school and talking to the kids there.

Here are the photos, lots of them, to share the process of painting the mural. Lots of work, but also lots of help. Special thanks to my wonderful husband Juan, who sacrificed all his wishes to see friends and places in order to help make this mural; Flor, who committed to the project with the soul of a true artist; her brother Reino, who is the master of the roller and the small brush and came everyday to help; Mirelsa, who painted, cut and listened to our outrageous ramblings; to my lifetime friend Waldemar who painted, cooked, drank and pulled the musician to us one evening and who always supports me in life and art; my mom, who sheltered and drove us everywhere; Junior, who moved all his resources to make this project happen; Guido Barletta, the director of the Porta Coeli Museum, who first invited me and sent our way the wonderful college students who helped paint the Porta Coeli; to Pescao and his granddaughter, Eunice, Yolanda, and all the people who passed by to cheer us on!

Here are the photos:

Preparing the wall with anti-fungal primer. The humidity kills everything on these walls.

I brought the design as a giant sheet of paper (made up of a ton of little prints puzzled together).  I used transfer paper to get the image onto the wall. I use paper designs like this for my mosaic murals, and the transfer paper for transferring drawings to tiles and canvases. This one was only semi-effective as the wall was very rough and the lines were not very clear when transferred. But in the end it was helpful to have the big paper since we used it as a gigantic stencil for the letters. 

Transferring the drawings.
Waldemar helps paint my big heart. Waldemar and I met when we were 8 years old. He is pretty much my brother.

First layers.

There was an ant hill under my feet...

Big color shapes.

Painting swallows, the birds of San German.

Straight lines by Reino.

Flor saves the spilled black paint!
This smile is not common...

My mom behind me.

When we realized that there was no way to transfer the letters with transfer paper, we started cutting a gigantic stencil. The paper was backed by contact paper (plastic). This is in my mother's house.
Letter transferred. But a part was still being cut.
It took hours for this little part of the text, but experience makes masters, so progress was much better in the next days. 

Flor at work into the night...

The missing part arrives.

We worked from 4 to 9 p.m. most days. The heat during the day made it impossible to work, which freed up a little time for me to get my driver's license renewed...

These art students arrived and got to work. They did an outstanding job with the Porta Coeli!

The gigantic stencil.


Waldemar thinking what will be his next order.

Almost done!

Retouching the swallows after using a stencil made of paper and contact plastic.


Flor at work.

Reino at work.

Finishing, fixing, retouching. I think only Flor, Reino and I have the necessary patience for this task. The siblings finished the last touches after I left. 

Porta Coeli is one of the landmark of San German. 

Porta Coeli

Junior contemplates the work.

Junior, the president of Amigos de San German, Inc.

Hi Junior!

Photo shared by my friend Belkis Santiago. We went to middle school, the first year of high school and the first semester of college together.

I love it! My friends Ana and Alma, from New York, were in Puerto Rico and passed by San German to see the mural. They shared this photo with me and Facebook!
The swallow stencil remains so that Flor can paint a mural I designed for her!  Photos by Juan V. Nunez.

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