Under Deadline, Pt. 3: Suspended Water
NOTE: Another in a series of projects completed for a new local newspaper publication. To read the first post in the series click here.
When I finished my “portable mural”, ‘AGUA’ (‘WATER’), at the end of last year, I did so hoping to sell it. But somewhere between its completion and its presentation at the Long Beach Flea Market, I began hoping that no one would buy it (Paul had already expressed that very sentiment early in its creation). Still, despite my ambivalence, I was determined to test the strength of the piece’s appeal; its sale the ultimate positive response. At the flea, reactions to the piece were positive but I don’t think many people bought the idea of its portability … even those who expressed interest in it were heard to wonder how they might get it home. It appeared that even though I’d made the calculated decision to paint the mural on four separate, easy-to-transport panels, it was too large/heavy/unwieldy for its admirers (a fact my booth-mates probably wouldn’t dispute, either). Anyway, it didn’t sell and we brought it home. Weeks passed and it languished in the garage; Paul and I discussing its possible location and display with no great urgency. Everything we came up with seemed overly-complicated, not to mention expensive; his desire to include a water feature a sticking point. That changed once I’d gotten the two-week deadline call. I made the decision: It would take the place of ‘ZUNI’, the rapidly deteriorating painting that had hung outside, and over, a built-in planter since we’d moved to the Rancho (see inset). Now, I just needed a mode of display.
Paul had already made the separate panels a unit with heavy-duty screws, which made transporting the mural both more difficult and easier to move: It was easier to move in one piece, but much heavier. Again, stronger backs were needed; my brother Mario and brother-in-law, José supplied those. They also served as consultants for the mechanism of display. At first I thought we might just stand it within the planter atop cinder blocks, but that was deemed a bad idea quickly; it was nearly impossible to achieve level. Next, I suggested we hang it under the eaves above the planter. A trip to the hardware to pick up possible materials and we found the best and simplest solution: heavy-duty eye-hooks and chain. In a major stroke of luck, Mario and José were able to suspend ‘AGUA’ level on the first attempt! Now the mural fit the space over the planter perfectly; its proportions just right.
One reason I thought the mural would look great displayed over the planter is because it overflowed with a very simpatico succulent: Senecio mandraliscae (see foreground, above). Also known as blue chalk stick senecio, this plant visually says “water” to me for more than its color; its form also reminds me of undersea anemones. Also present: The large, central aloe and other succulents and rocks.
I’m very happy with my mural, its setting and the interaction it has with its surroundings. And, I enjoy that I was able to present the idea of water without use of an actual fountain or similar water feature, and by using plants that don’t require much of it to flourish. Best of all, with ‘AGUA’ suspended above them, all the succulents in the planter have taken on the look and feel of water plants, undulating with some unseen current.
Next post: Bright Spot