We rolled into the hotel parking lot in Summerville, SC a bit closer to 5:30 pm than I had hoped. Violet and I were set to perform a few songs during the Rad Dad Concert at Public Works Art Center that started at 6:00 pm. We checked in, threw our stuff down, changed clothes and ran back to the car. We were on time for parking, but by the time we walked into the gallery, we were a good 5 minutes late. (Sorry y’all.) The concert had just started so it was all fine. Our cool friend Dan Riley was in charge and he kept things very informal and comfortable. When he asked us if we were ready, it took us a few minutes to get things organized but that kept us from getting too nervous. It was odd to not be in our living room with our music laid out on a table in front of us. Violet had to hold the music because I don’t always remember the chord progressions. I really had to concentrate because her hand was shaking, it was dark, and my eyes are old. We rocked the first two songs but I kept screwing up the third song, “Betty”. We never figured out what was wrong, but we both agreed the chords sounded terrible so it was definitely something I was doing. We did one more song on ukulele and then we were done. The pressure was off and that was one more thing I could take out of my mind. One more compartment I could close. We were so pumped to get to hear Dan play with both of his kids. That was definitely the highlight of the night. It was also very cool to be playing in the gallery filled with my artwork.
We had planned to hang out in Charleston on Saturday before starting our secret art mission at 5:00 pm. We got up, I ran, and we all headed to breakfast at The Vicious Biscuit. It was so good. At breakfast we decided to change our plans and shift it to doing back to school shopping for the kids. We spent most of the day at the outlets and while I walked around with everyone, my mind had shifted to the mural I was about to start. I didn’t know what I was going to draw, but I had some ideas on how to use the very vertical space. I was also trying to problem solve how I was going to plan and execute the entire mural from the top down. This is not how I usually work. I like to move around the composition as it evolves. All this was playing in my head as I “shopped”.
After shopping we headed back to the hotel. Actually on the way we had to make a very important stop for Blue. This summer he fell in love with Cane’s chicken and the closest one is in Summerville. He was happy we had to make so many trips to the area this summer and this was the reason he was glad to be town again. After Cane’s, we made a quick stop at the hotel. G and the kids were heading back to the dogs at home and Katherine and I were preparing to be up very late doing the mural. We found a food truck near the hotel and got some really good food from Page’s Okra Grill to fuel our night. We all loaded up G’s car with as many drawings and sculptures as possible and wished them a safe trip. Then Katherine and I went inside to prepare. Our friend Dan set up the scaffolding for us as soon as the building closed officially at 5:00 pm. The idea was that the scaffolding was going to block access to the bottom floor of the Art Center so we only had from 5:00 pm Saturday until 8:00 am Monday to complete the whole thing. Not a lot of people had been told about the event so we totally ran with the whole “secret mission” thing. Muraling is still associated with graffiti so the idea of coming in under the cover of darkness and working all night seemed to fit.
When I did the gallery mural for my show, I asked a few of the artists in the adjoining studios if they had any requests. I did my best to work those requests into my narrative. I had an idea to do something similar this time. I had the privilege of getting to know Jana, the Executive Director, Emily, the Assistant Director, and Jana’s husband Dan during my exhibit. Two of Jana’s kids performed at the Rad Dad concert and I also got to talk to them a little. The kids had a couple of requests for the stairwell mural and Emily had a tiny one too. Those were little sparks that started to build and grow as I started drawing.
On Monday I ran alone along the exercise path I found near the hotel. I was able to think about the mural and toss around ideas for the few small open areas left to fill in. At this point we mostly had touch up work to do and then we’d be finished. We checked out of our rooms that were so kindly provided by Cambria Hotels and stopped at Coastal Coffee Roasters on the way to the Arts Center. I found this place when I was doing the gallery mural and loved their coffee. We were not disappointed this time either. We took the time to leave a butt drawing on one of the tables outside and then drove over to do the finishing touches. While we technically needed to be finished by 8:00 am Monday, we had completely dismantled the scaffolding on Sunday, so the stairwell was open to traffic.