Painting “A Magical Garden” at the Elyton

Published on January 30, 2019

Painting “A Magical Garden” at the Elyton Hotel while it was under construction last year was an adventure. It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to create a piece of art on-site in such a beautiful and historic building in downtown Birmingham, Al. The marble lobby of the old Empire building was a breathtaking backdrop for the prospect of a mural.

The night before I was to begin the project, I was still unsure about what the subject matter for the painting would be. So, I dipped back to my time in Vienna, Austria and researched some Klimt works. I remembered paintings that I would regularly visit in museums in Vienna and was inspired by visions of these beautiful pieces of art. I thought the gold and the silver of his paintings during the art nouveau period would complement  the already existing marble in the lobby. What I wanted to create was a garden full of flowing colors with touches of silver and gold. I love gardens and wanted to create one on the walls of the Elyton.

Little did I know that once equipped with my inspiration, I would arrive to a site with no air conditioning in Alabama during an unseasonably warm May. The heat, dust and the whir of machinery quickly eradicated romantic thoughts of Klimt and Vienna. They were replaced by the daily fight to hold on to my fan, extension cord and bucket which regularly disappeared to the 16th floor.

One particularly hot and humid day I arrived on site to discover a baseball sized gaping hole in the wall of my half-finished mural. A large cart loaded with a protruding piece of wood was sitting a few feet away surrounded by a group of workers. As I looked to them for an explanation, each refused to meet my eye and simply pointed sheepishly to the person next to them as if to say, “It wasn’t me”. Unable to determine the culprit and determined to finish, I plugged in my fan, repaired the hole and began again. Such adventures became an everyday occurrence.

With all of the noise, smells and distractions, I am unsure of how the finished mural came to be. What I do know is that at the end of the two months, I looked up and a garden filled the walls. I named the piece “A Magical Garden” which for me was appropriate because it took a little magic for this mural to come to life.

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