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The Mural that Persevered...

A peek behind the scenes of the most logistically challenging mural I have had to date.

Initial Discussion and Mural Sketches

All murals start with a discussion about what the person commissioning the mural wants and me taking notes, taking measurements, and looking at the area around the wall to plan out logistics. (It must be noted here that I need to greatly improve in the latter---my husband, aka Head of Logistics for KB Studio, constantly finds details that I didn't think of and has rescued the situation time and time again.)

first state bank gainesville tx

I was so excited when First State Bank in Gainesville, TX reached out about doing a mural in the lobby of the California St. location as part of their 2nd floor remodel. When I met with them initially, the wall for the mural was partly obscured by scaffolding and plastic that the construction team had set up as they worked on the remodel. I did get measurements of the wall but not the in depth look around the wall to really envision the space I would be working in. <---- mistake 1.

sketches and Gainesville Tx history
Some reference photos and sketches for the design process.

For the mural design, we wanted to highlight the history of Gainesville area, established in 1850, and the history of First State Bank, which was chartered in 1905 and is the oldest state bank in Texas. More history about the bank here.

After a few sketch revisions to make sure all elements they wanted to include in the history montage were arranged just right, we settled on a final design and coordinated about the start date for me to paint.

The Challenges Begin...

Genie lift

Before I even started painting, logistics were difficult. I had delivered my lift to the bank parking lot Sunday evening for a Monday morning start and arrived Monday morning to find a hydraulic oil leak, which clearly couldn't be taken into the bank on the carpet. So, back onto the trailer and home for a repair and delayed start.

bank lobby space

To explain the space here, the bank lobby is ground level with this open center space and the double-back staircase leading to the second floor. There is a space between the curved cabinet and the mural wall, which I had determined would fit my Genie lift bucket by measuring at the left side of the cabinet at our initial meeting with the contractor (measuring in the midst of all the scaffolding and plastic).

After the lift hydraulic oil leak repair and getting it into the building, what an interesting discovery on day 1 of painting was that this curved cabinet is NOT centered in the open space and therefore the opening is smaller on the right side compared to the left side. It was about 2" too narrow to fit my lift in the right-side opening. And the cabinet curve outward wouldn't allow me to extend the lift up on the left side and drive over to the right.

After discussion with the bank representative who I was working with on the project and head of maintenance, we determined that we would figure out an option to get to the right side of the mural wall. So, I literally started sketching off a mural where I had yet to figure out how to reach the right side. Yikes!

mural sketch

I don't use a true grid pattern to sketch out my murals. You can see the blue painters tape dots that help me space things out where I usually divide the wall space into quarters for reference. And with the location of this wall with the staircase in the center of the room, it didn't make sense to me to try to use a projector, which I do on occasion depending on the scenario. So, everything was sketched out freehand.

Katie Brinkley muralist painting
Gainesville TX history mural

For a week, I just worked on the left side where I could reach with my lift as we continued to brainstorm and try new options to allow me to reach the right side of the wall. Extension ladder---nope, too steep of an angle with the cabinet in the way. Lift with articulating arm that the electricians brought in for light installation--nope, arm wasn't long enough with the tight angle to fit the lift into the lobby.

Genie lifts and ladder

Finally, after researching lift options and their very specific dimensions, we found a lift to rent that is basically the model size down from mine that is slightly narrower. It JUST fit when I extended the bucket up at the far-right corner where the opening was the largest, climbed out of the lift on top of the curved cabinet so the lift could manually be moved into place where I could reach all the wall space I needed, and then accessed the rented lift bucket from climbing on top of the cabinet from the stairs. So, the set up became my lift to reach the left side of the wall, A-frame ladder for the very center to about halfway up and rented smaller lift for the right side. What a logistical mess! I will forever be grateful for Larry, head of maintenance at the bank, who took the lead on figuring out how to make this all work and checking on me every day.

Mural Completion!

First State Bank mural

First State Bank mural

The design can be generally viewed from left to right to be chronological. Butterfield Overland Stage Line, which provided mail and stage service between St. Louis and San Francisco between 1858-1861, had a station in Gainesville. The stagecoach and horses with "date stamp" noting 1858 represents an early highlight of the Gainesville area history. The design then moves through early cattle drives, the Santa Fe Depot, built in 1902, and Cooke County Courthouse, built in 1911. The Gainesville Community Circus, started in 1930, is represented by the calliope (still viewable at the Santa Fe Depot museum) and performer with elephant, which was referenced from a photograph at the Morton Museum. More info about the circus here. The Frank Buck Zoo grew out of the community circus and is still in operation today with more than 130 animals. Camp Howze military camp was located adjacent to Gainesville during WWII and at the conclusion of the war and closure of the camp, the air strip was transferred to the city of Gainesville as a municipal airport. Since 2001, Gainesville has held the Medal of Honor Host City Program, depicted by the waving American flag.

The ribbon across the bottom of the mural depicts the changing First State Bank logos through the years, showing how FSB has been an integral part of Gainesville from early on. What a feat to stand the test of time and continue to grow as they have.

And the mural lived happily ever after at First State Bank 801 E. California Street, Gainesville.

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Jun 07

Katie, you continue to amaze me with your talent! Thank you for leaving such beautiful works of art in Gainesville, TX, for all to enjoy. The one at the Morton Museum depicts the history of the entire county, and I am so proud you made it come to life!!! The flower garden is a happy mural for all to enjoy. Keep using your God given talent to lend life for all to enjoy for years to come!

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