Sunday, October 30, 2011

Urban Renewal

The fifth and final mural of the St. Louis Block murals is now complete, as of last week. I wasn't sure if I would succeed in a race against the winter weather, but fate was kind and I worked hard.

The final mural is called "Urban Renewal, 1973-1977" and is painted in the same style and mostly monochromatic palette used for the "Memory Wall."

The source photo used as the departure point for the painting was a historic photo of the old T.O.K. Garage at the end of South Main, about where the Lewis and Clark Public Library is now (source here, along with a discussion of the demolition for Urban Renewal).

The background of the stained concrete was integrated into the painting, with some areas left sketchy and some fully rendered and detailed, to reflect the idea of erasure, disappearance, and memory.

Finally, the series of five murals, each mural with its own title, also has a single umbrella title for the murals, "Palimpsest." This unifies all of the murals on the St. Louis Block. And the information about the sponsors was painted on as well, on the lower left side.

What does "Palimpsest" mean? As I wrote on the wall of this last mural:

A surface on which something was written,
then erased,
then reused to write something new,
leaving faint, incomplete traces of the old.

The Helena "Palimpsest" Mural Series, St. Louis Block, Last Chance Gulch:

1. "Dragon Gate"
2. "Memory Wall: The Historic Chinese Community of Helena"
3. "Sometimes I Feel Like Chinese Takeout"
4. "Dorothy's Room"
5. "Urban Renewal, 1973-1977"

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