This is one of 17 murals produced during a Walldogs ‘meet’ in Pontiac, Illinois, in the summer of 2009. These events bring together sign artists from around the world to decorate towns and cities with colourful murals. In this case it was the home of the International Walldog Mural & Sign Art Museum and a place famed for its position on America’s Route 66.
One of the best things about this painting extravaganza is that it was all documented on film and turned into a DVD. Over two hours of film show the whole process from setting up the event to the work being completed on the murals. This is complemented by a bonus DVD with additional material, out-takes and more.
The murals celebrate historical or otherwise noteworthy aspect of the city of Pontiac. The overall design and production on each one was managed by a project leader, one of the 160 artists who descended for the four days of mural mayhem. The DVD gives insights into the artists’ individual personalities and the city of Pontiac itself through sections dedicated to each mural. These are complemented by interviews with city officers and the hosts of the event, the Diaz signpainting family.
The work was done in a way that involved the community with many scenes showing locals getting their hands dirty and applying paint to the bricks. As the murals were being painted there were also key moments where locals were able to add to authenticity by bringing their local knowledge to bear. One example included someone bringing an old ice-cream box along to make sure that the artists got the logo exactly right. This involvement of the community reminded me of the recent restoration effort on the Brixton Windmill mural in London.
The film has a great diversity of lettering and illustration styles and it is this which brings such character to each of the murals produced. Some of them look like old hand-painted advertisements while others are murals in the more traditional sense. Seeing the paintwork being done up close gives a real sense of what goes into producing a large-scale piece of wall advertising. Very early on in the film we get to see the layouts being created using the light projection technique. One of the Walldogs notes that Michelangelo would have used the technology on the Sistine Chapel if it had been available in his day.
The DVD really brings out the sense of fun that the artists, organisers and community had at this particular Walldog meet. Now that I’ve seen what’s involved I’d love to attend one in person and maybe even have a go at applying some paint to a piece of art on a wall somewhere in the USA. It looks like the next event is in July 2013 in Kewanee, Illinois…
The DVD is available to order directly from the producers, McCoy Studios via their website [Link expired].