Color Rendering of Proposed Mural

Color Rendering of Proposed Mural
by Chris Vincent

Monday, July 19, 2010

That's HOT!

I don't have a whole lot of feeling for Paris Hilton and her contributions (or lack thereof) to the world, but I must thank her for her catch-phrase, "That's hot," because I use it all the time.  But the work Murals by Design's Chris Vincent is doing on the Waukesha mural is bringing new depth of meaning to that expression.  Consider what she's doing.  She's up 20 feet in the air an arm's-length away from a brick wall being baked all day long by the summer sun.  (Think tandoori cooking.)  Though 85 degrees in the shade is not to be dismissed as typical July heat, add to that 70% humidity and you have a tropical atmosphere -- without the benefit of a fruity, frozen beverage.

I got a chance to visit the muralist at the corner of Barstow and Main today, offering her a variety of hats to help deflect some solar wrath. While the chosen visor makes up in function what it lacks in fashion, I'm not sure how much relief it will provide.  Chris asks that we pray for cool breezes and overcast skies over her parcel of downtown Waukesha for the next three to four weeks as she continues to create the historical cityscape.  Today's not a bad mural painting day, all things considered.

As for the first visible glimpses of this gargantuan mural, "That's hot!"  Be proud, Waukesha Historical Mural Project collaborators and contributors; this is a good work!

There's still time to get involved.  Donations are being accepted through Good Friend, Inc. for another three weeks.  And with the withdrawal of our junior artist friend pair from White Rock, we could use another representative from that school.  If you know anyone with children who attended White Rock in the 2009-'10 school year or earlier, please contact Denise Schamens.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Let me tell you a story ...

One of the 17 Waukesha students with special education needs who will be painting part of this mural is my son. He just finished 5th grade, loves to draw pictures of heroes and villains from his favorite comic stories, and has autism. One of the hallmarks of this neurobiological disorder is difficulty with social interaction.  Because people with autism have brains that are wired differently than most others, the way they process and prioritize information makes forming relationships challenging.

So when at the end of his first grade year I got a note from one of my son's classmate's mothers that her boy wanted to be in the same class as my boy in second grade, I literally wept.  My boy had a friend -- someone who enjoyed him just the way he was.  And while my mommy heart soared, I did not know then just how important such friendships are in the life-long outcome for someone with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

As it turns out, research indicates that a good determinant of quality of life for someone with ASD is his or her ability to be part of a community.  Having recreational opportunities and people who care about you are just as important as having a job and a place to call home.  But if we in our communities are not including people like my son, where will they belong?

While I appreciate the history of Waukesha that is the focal point of Chris Vincent's mural design, it is the history of my son's social development that tickles me most.  He now has a handful of friends, one of whom is taking time out on her birthday to help him paint a leaf in the border.  She, and all the other "regular education" school friends of children with special education needs, will show us how to make people with different abilities part of our community by being part of this remarkable junior artist team.

It's amazing what a little awareness, acceptance, and empathy can do.  I hope you'll watch it happen from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, August 7, at the corner of Barstow and Main Streets in downtown Waukesha.

For more information about Good Friend and donating to this project, click here.  For more information on the mural, click on the color rendering of the mural above.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Let's get this party started!

By this time next week, Chris Vincent will have prepared the wall to get the mural started.  The plan is to wash the presently unpainted surface, then prime it, and get a sliver of the mural painted.  Reportedly, the Journal Sentinel is planning to have a camera trained on Discount Liquor's wall so they can do a time lapse story as it's finished.  And I know from what Chris has said about the residents at Avalon Square that they'll be watching!

So if your travels take you through downtown Waukesha after July 10, travel (safely) through the intersection at Main and Barstow and have a gander at that wall.  Get an idea of what it would be like to have your name on a leaf ($100 donation), or under a building ($1000 donation).  Donations of $500 or more will be met with an art-quality print of the scaled-down mural. Online donations made through Good Friend's website are tax-deductible now through August 7. We still need another $5K to get the project fully funded!

Did you get a chance to see Chris and Denise on "The Morning Blend" earlier this week?  If not, here's the link to the segment.  Denise refers to Waukesha schools that are at this point NOT represented by a junior artist. We remind families that this project is about a community and a legacy -- not the district or its actions.  So if you know families whose children have attended any of grades 2-6 during the 2009-'10 school year at the following schools: Hadfield, Lowell, Randall, Saratoga, and Summit View, please have them contact Denise (262-391-1369,  And if you're a middle school student who's participated in the Waukesha Community Art Project and you'd like to assist our junior artist team, contact Page Remmers (262-751-7245,

Buzz ... buzzzz ... bbbuuuzzzz ... Do you hear that??  It's not yet another of the zillion mosquitoes in your ear -- it's the community talking about this project!  Keep buzzing and share in the excitement as the first buildings in the mural are painted.