Another public art installation is taking place this summer in Westchase District and will be the District’s largest piece to date: a 100-foot wide by 20-foot tall mural designed as a tribute to Hurricane Harvey rescuers.
Flood channel canvas
The mural will be located on a concrete slope where the Brays Bayou Connector Trail intersects with the Wilcrest Connector Trail, just north of the Westpark Tollway. The trail follows along a Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) channel, creating a thematic tie for the mural’s subject.
“About a year ago, we discussed painting a mural at this location but hadn’t decided on a theme,” said Louis Jullien, Westchase District’s projects director. “In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and upon hearing about the many stories of heroic rescues during the catastrophe, we thought it would be appropriate to create a mural that recognized and thanked the citizens who selflessly came to the aid of others.”
The District has an agreement with HCFCD that allows it to paint on concrete portions of the channel, though the District must submit designs for content approval. “The folks over at flood control loved the idea and felt it was a clever way to show appreciation,” Jullien said. “I think the mural will serve as a reminder of the best qualities in people that can come out during a disaster like Harvey.”
The MacGyver of mural artists
The man tasked with creating the mural is Larry Crawford, the same artist who has painted ten “muralitos” on traffic signal control boxes throughout Westchase District. Jullien compared Crawford to the television character MacGyver – who is famous for solving problems with the inventive, improvised use of common items – because of Crawford’s ability to access the site despite its difficult-to-reach location.
“Working in the Houston heat while pestered by mosquitoes, he somehow figures out the dimensions of the mural’s elements so that they’re in proportion. I’m amazed by what he can do,” Jullien said.
Crawford said that next to getting to the site, his greatest challenge with this project is getting the scaling and perspective right, since the mural is so large and on an angle. “I can’t project this on a wall like I would other murals and I can’t just freehand it,” he said. “I have to use large paper patterns that allow me to basically trace my characters and details so that they’re proportional.”
Crawford estimates that he’ll use about 10 gallons of paint for primer, about 30 gallons for base colors, another 10 gallons for foreground elements and about 15 gallons of clear coat on top of the finished image as a protectant against sunlight and graffiti. His preferred paint? “I use Behr Premium Plus outdoor exterior paint from Home Depot,” he said. “It stands up to the weather really well and I know that the image needs to be able to take some abuse.”