After many weeks of painting in the alley, there are some questions that have become painfully standard. So standard that I'll bet you have already asked several of them...
Q: How long did it take to paint the mural?
A: So far, the mural has taken about seven OR EIGHT (and counting) weeks to complete- but we keep adding stuff!
Q: Did you paint all of this by yourself?
A: I painted most of it, but with a lot of help from my assistant Frank Graham. Two other artists have done a portrait each to contribute to the result. You can read about all of us in the page at the top labeled Muralists. http://navasotamusicmural.blogspot.com/p/the-muralists.html
David Woods painting Nat Dove.
Q: Is this the biggest mural you have ever done?
A: Actually no, my mural at the Star of the Republic Museum is a little larger. It has considerable more detail, and took several artists eight months to complete.
Q: Are you going to put the names on the people so we know who they are?
A: Originally we planned to, but the rough wall surface makes lettering very difficult. After considering all of our signage options, we made this website instead, and plan to publish a brochure that explains who the people are. Maybe we can make them available outside in the flower boxes or something...
Q: Who is the man playing the fiddle?
A: The fiddler is sort of a representative of the musicians from slavery times who started the music we call the blues today. Both Mance Lipscomb's father and Milt Larkin's father were country fiddlers, who passed their music down to their children..
Q: Are you (or someone) going to paint the other wall, opposite the mural?
A: This is probably the most popular question. The opposite wall on W.C. Mercantile should be the home of a mural someday, but to my knowledge there are no plans right now to make one. The Blues Alley mural is a very expensive and dare I say it, heroic undertaking. It took four men, seven weeks (more or less) to complete. The paint and materials alone cost around $1500.00. The estimated cost of a similar project on the W. C. Mercantile wall, although smaller, even done conservatively would be around $5000.00. The City of Navasota played no part in the creation or the financing of this project. The Blues Alley mural was completed with private money paid for by Bert Miller and considerable labor donations by the artists. Although it would be wonderful, that combination will probably never come together again... Let's enjoy the wall we have...
Q: Why didn't you put (name of your favorite artist here) on the wall?
A: The artists on the wall are the musicians who were successful recording artists from our region, from the past, and up to the present. They either wrote original music which was published or played on recordings in recording studios, or were given recording contracts with record companies and cut singles or albums there. This mural is intended to celebrate our music history. We did not put folks on the wall, especially living, whose history is yet to be written.
MOST musicians we know of alive or dead, who fit this description were put on the wall. Believe it or not there are others. But we had to leave out some of my favorites, like L. C. Robinson, and Blind Arvella Grey, Juke Boy Bonner, Don Kesee, and Albert Collins, because they were not quite in our radius, or not yet associated with a record label, or lack of space, and time limitations. Our many contemporary local artists deserve recognition, but we started with those who had gone before, who paved the way for this generation. It has taken fifty years for us to get around to commemorating their careers. Let's hope someday there is a need for another, and it will not take near as long!
Q: How come you painted the mural where nobody can see it? There were better places to put it... more visible from the road...
A: This has BEEN SAID MANY TIMES. Mr. Bert Miller contracted me to paint a mural on his wall. Mr. Miller paid for it as well. It would have been quite a magnanimous gesture for him to have decorated someone else's business location... And of course the music theme of the mural fit his store the best. The long range plan is for the alley to become a pedestrian walkway between downtown and Mance Lipscomb Park. Many people have already enjoyed it where it is, and as they use the alley, many more will in the future.
This location offers an out of the way, intimate educational experience right in the heart of downtown, adjacent to a City passageway. It is an outdoor art gallery of sorts, but enjoys considerable shade which will protect the mural and help it survive twice as long as murals on most walls with lots of sun. Besides, the only proper way to experience the art is to get the hell out of your car.
We would be glad to negotiate the creation of other murals on other walls... But hey, it's done... let's enjoy it instead of second guessing everything.
Q: What is the purpose of the mural?
A: Navasota is the official Blues Capital of Texas, yet there was not much visible around town celebrating that title. Beyond that we wanted to make the alley more of an attraction for downtown. And personally, I wanted to do something to recognize the remarkable, yet mostly unknown achievements of many of our region's successful musicians.
Q: What is the theme of the mural? (What is this thing about?)
A: To put it simply, it is about the Human Spirit.
If you have a question, please feel free to ask... that what makes a blog better than a website, as it is designed to be interactive.