A couple of weeks ago a Ryan Henry Ward entered our store for the first time. He introduced himself by stating that he was a painter and has been painting murals in surrounding neighborhoods. He had noticed a wall of our building and offered to paint a mural on it, for free. He went on to say that he is painting murals at no charge for two reasons: to gain name recognition and to decrease the frequency of graffiti. The south wall of our building shows rectangles of newer paint that are characteristic signs of graffiti removal. That wall gets tagged a couple of times a year.
“Can we see some of your other murals?” we asked. Ryan eagerly gave us their locations and described them. His enthusiasm demonstrated his love of his work.
That evening after work we drove around and viewed a couple of Ryan’s civic murals. The next day we contacted our landlord and asked his opinion about a mural on the wall of his building. He viewed some of Ryan’s work and being an artist himself enthusiastically agreed.
We negotiated with Ryan about the subject of the mural and it’s general layout and size. It was to be an expression of the monk St. Francis of Assisi with his hand on one animal. The scene fits our store’s message well. It is whimsical enough to be an addition to the neighborhood, will discourage graffiti artists, and has special spiritual meaning to Ryan. It would be a good fit all around.
Two evenings ago Ryan came to the store and began painting the mural. He began in the evening after the store was closed. He worked straight through the night and stopped at 5:00 AM. The base coat is in acrylic and it needed to dry for a few hours before he added the characters in oil on top of the base layer. Ryan returned to his mural when we opened at 9:30 and worked until it was completed a few hours later. He told me that he was so pumped up by the painting that he hardly slept during the few hours that he was away.
The mural is finished. We think it looks terrific and brightens the commercial portion of our street. We love the image of St. Francis with his hand affectionately holding the deer. And it is obvious that this mural has deep meaning for Ryan.
It has been one of those moments. It has seemed right. From the beginning to completion this mural project has been special to all of us involved in it. This informs me that the Holy Spirit has been part of the project. This has been one of those delights of life that make life so much more than just living day after day.