Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pirates or Ninjas?

Priming at Over the Rhine!

One of the first mural projects to begin painting their wall, Over-the-Rhine’s building has slowly made the transition from a pale mauve to a gleaming blanket of white. The mural prep process begins with scraping at the wall with wire-bristled brushed to remove grime and create a smooth surface on which to paint. When I asked the apprentices how they know the wall’s been scraped enough, one replied, laughing, “When it stops misting, basically,” referring to the fine clouds of brick dust that billow from their busily scraping brushes.

As the chorus of wire brushes serenaded me, I looked out from the scaffolding and into nearby Washington Park. Though I felt a bit guilty, gazing at the view as the mural apprentices scraped, I couldn’t help admiring it—Over-the-Rhine’s scaffolding provides the perfect vantage point from which to survey Washington Park and the stately red of Music Hall rising behind the full green trees. Then again, the apprentices don’t seem to be missing the view too much—as the days of wire-brushing become hour after hour of priming, there is very little moaning or groaning to be found, heard only, perhaps, from the apprentice who arrives last each morning and is therefore assigned the task of wiping away the drips of white paint that fall onto the bottom of the wall from paintbrushes higher up on the scaffolding. Besides the dismay and gentle teasing which accompany this job, though, everything said at Over-the-Rhine is shiningly lighthearted. Calls of “Which is better: pirates or ninjas?” or “Werewolves or vampires?” echo from apprentice to apprentice, mingling with the voices of teaching artists as they advocate frequent water breaks.

Though I’m not sure if the question of ninjas or pirates was ever satisfactorily answered, there’s no question about the successful progress Over-the-Rhine’s made on their mural.

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