Saturday, April 27, 2013

Songdo - painting begins

On Tuesday, two days after our arrival and still fighting against our bodies telling us it was the middle of the night and we should be sleeping, we primed the wall over at Central Park. Looking around at the gleaming skyscrappers and grandeur of the landscape design, I realized how lucky we were to be painting in such a place. I imagined painting a mural in New York's Central Park. Fat chance.

Not an illusion
Our good fortune to be here now owes much to Vanessa Vanek's vision and persistence along with plain old good timing - we arrived right at the moment when the park and the city were ready to introduce themselves to the country and world, and a little human touch in the form of a community mural helped to warm that greeting.

Putting the first paint to the wall was a relief. No sirens went off. No security came running to stop us. It was just like priming any other wall. We had planned to transfer the design using a projector that evening, but the skies disagreed. A wave of clouds rolled in from the Yellow Sea, disappeared the upper halves of Songdo's skyline and then let out an all day rain. 

Wednesday was cool and clear so we decided to skip the projector and transfer the old-school way - squaring up with a grid. We figured it would also be a good lesson in patience and practical math for our student group. We also got to hang out at the Boathouse Cafe for hot drinks. In the distance we could hear loud music being broadcast over a PA. It sounded like an antiquated patriotic song full of nationalistic zeal. All of us wondered, the North Koreans?

Thursday, more cold rain so we began by mixing colors for an audience of Chadwick second graders back at school. They had a blast trying to figure out how to make black from our pure colors. By lunch the rain had subsided and we headed over to the park, where a bright blue Chadwick canopy had been erected over our wall, just in case.

Some of Chadwick's administrators joined us along with another group of second graders. I dipped a brush in blue and handed it to the Headmaster Jeff Mercer. Painting began. Second graders followed, mentored by their upper school peers, along with a few of their moms. By the end of the day, nearly half the mural had some color.

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