Ballou Mural Project
Blog Post from The Studios of Garin Baker
May 10th 2015
Newly constructed Ballou High School, Washington, DC
What seems like a lifetime ago I began this large scale Public Art Mural project for the New Ballou High School in Washington, DC. It started back in February of 2014 with open "Call for Entries", initiated by the Department of General Services, (DGS). They build, manages and maintain many of the public buildings for The District of Columbia in Washington, DC. This 160 million dollar construction project is DC's Brand New, Flagship High School and would be DGS's first foray into the Public Art Realm.
Through a terribly flawed competitive process some 15 or so artists of various disciplines, including, painters, sculptors, ceramic artist and graphic designers were selected to create various works of art that would adorn this amazing new educational facility.
I was selected to create 6 murals. 3 for the Performance Arts Wing of the school, one for the Library entrance, one for the cafeteria area and another that would celebrate the "Ballou Marching Knights".
Performing Arts Murals viewed from the school's courtyard
Over many months of preliminary renderings, approvals and administrative hiccups, I was finally set to begin painting in my NY studios the final Murals in multiple sections. All are painted in alkyd oils on canvas and measure between 8 ft. high x 10 ft long. The 3 Performing Arts Murals shown above were each done in 3 sections totaling 30 ft. long (each). Titled "Crescendo", they depict a progression of young artists performing in local neighborhood clubs on the bottom tier, the collaborative performing arts in the middle tier, and on the top, the pinnacle of the ones craft, entertaining stadium capacity crowds, but never forgetting the roots and struggles of the journey.
"Crescendo" Top Tier, Oil on Canvas adhered to Sheetrock Wall.
As seen in it's new home on the third floor of the New Ballou High School's Performing Arts Wing.
Detail Image below
My most trusted assistant artist Bryan Guglielmi is installing the Second tier Mural for the Performing Arts Wing. Here Bryan is finishing off the french cut seems that joins all three sections together enabling a seamless and expansive view.
Here is a great shot of the School's amazing courtyard that serves as an exterior expansion onto the large interior cafeteria space.
Turning to the left is a view showing the beginning stages of our instillation of the Cafeteria Mural entitled, "Community Garden" and an image of the Mural above that leads into the Library and Media Center entitled, "21st Century Learning".
Bryan is Trimming the excess canvas from the edges of the Library Mural, the full size Murals image and a detailed image below.
This Mural painting was inspired by a well know composition by Norman Rockwell's entitled, "The Land of Enchantment". I wanted to create a contemporary version that harkened back to the same spirit capturing youthful and human curiosity and our ability to search for all the world's knowledge and mysteries with the tap or touch of our finger tips.
The following Mural was created to celebrate and pay tribute to The Ballou High School Marching Band. "The Marching Knights" are one of the great stories about this school and community.
The Music Director, over the course of many years has built a nationally awarded music and band program. They have performed at the White House, on TV, as well as all across the United States. This is one of those great human achievements that deserves recognition and notice.
This Mural was very close to my heart and I hope they will all, for many years to come, adorn the school as living insignias of what can be accomplished with hard work and stubborn determination.
Here again the edges of the "Ballou Marching Knights" Mural is being trimmed, the full Mural image as well as a detailed version below.
The full story of this amazing and profound legacy was documented and featured in a wonderfully produced Garden Thieves Pictures titled, "Ballou A Documentary Film", created by Michael Patrei. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJZZV59wMGo
Through out this long and difficult multiple Mural project I tried to create iconic and exciting images that would honor the students, staff and all whom have labored over the past several years to build this amazing facility.
I'm sure over time the Department of General Services will grow and evolve into one of the premier commissioning agencies of Public Art and offer to all in the Metro DC area and all who use and visit these public facilities on a daily basis, inspiring and Grand Visions for generations to come.