I moved to St. Louis from Missoula, Montana during the ice storm of January, 1997. I lived in Missoula for fifteen years, finished my Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Montana, and earned a living doing photo restoration at a local business. Having been reared in Kansas, I thought it would be nice living in an area with longer seasons and what I thought would be less severe weather.
My dream for some time was to support myself with my art. After stints of doing various forms of house painting, tile setting and carpentry, as well as customized framing and photo restorations, that dream has become a reality. I do not work exclusively in any particular style or medium and have been fortunate in securing commissions ranging form large murals, signs, posters as well as portraits and sculptures. The challenge is finding the style and techniques that best express a particular image or project.
When meeting with someone about a potential commission, images come to mind as the project described. After research and sorting through reference material I create and initial sketch, which is presented for further discussion and clarification. This interactive process of determining which style, technique and/or materials will achieve the desired outcome, i.e. the finished mural, sculpture, portrait, is similar to solving puzzles, and challenges. Once an agreed upon image/product has been developed, the project begins. One of my greatest pleasure is when a commission is finished and the outcome is greater than was initially anticipated.
For example, my first mural commission in St. Louis was inspired by Guy Sly, owner of the Mangrove building at the corner of Manchester and Tower Grove. He envisioned a collage of St. Louis that celebrated history and spirit of the City and he wanted it painted on a 19 ft x 11 ft wall inside the restaurant. It took several weeks, discussions with friends from this area, research, and driving all over the City taking photographs before the initial vision began to emerge into a tangible form. After even more discussion the wealth of potential images was distilled into the seventy images that became the St. Louis mural at the Mangrove.
On some of the larger murals and signs that have been commissioned, the challenges are mathematical in nature. Figuring out how to transfer a fifteen-inch sketch onto a twenty-foot wall does require some math. My fear of heights comes into play on occasion, although once on the scaffold, I become immersed in the act of painting and my fear disappears.
Over the past couple of years, two of my favorite projects have been paint-by-number outdoor neighborhood murals. These murals were created for the Forest park Southeast neighborhoods first and second annual Grove Fests. The goal was to construct a pleasing visual image and to actively engage the people of the neighborhood in the creation of the mural. Many, regardless of age or skill level, enjoyed participating in the creation of something beautiful and lasting for the neighborhood.
I have been honored to win the Soulard Mardi Gras poster contest the past three years. Being given a theme with no further input I find more challenging than my usual collaborative style of working. However, once I actually begin to put pen to paper the ideas begin to refine themselves and over the course of the project gel into a coherent whole.
One of my latest commissions was to create a collage of 40 wine labels on the walls of the Grande Petite Market at 2017 Chouteau a specialty gift, wine and culinary shop. The challenge was not only to reproduce labels on a large scale, but to configure them in a pleasing manner while working around existing architectural structures. As with a number of the projects I have worked on, the research involved in gathering the images for the painting gave me a chance to learn more about a subject, in this case wine.
I have painted murals in private homes, portraits, sport figures, landscapes, created sculptures and photo restorations. My business, Signature Arts, is located at 2001 Russell Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63104. This space is also shared with Scott Lokitz Photography. The studio carries copies of the Mangrove Mural Poster as well as a complete line of customized framing. Business hours are Friday, 11 a.m.-6p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-3p.m. or by appointment 314.664.4211.