The Driveway Mural
It began as a New Year’s folly, an impulsive lark. Some children and I splashed a few square panels of our concrete driveway with old house-paint from the cellar, shrouding the dull stone with color and shapes. We thought it looked pretty good, so the next day I did another panel, and then another the next day. Soon I had a small chunk of cheerfulness looming outside the back door.
Around then, and without any sense of what I was getting into — or how long the project would take — I decided to paint the entire driveway, turning each rectangular chunk of concrete into a discreet work of art, a kind of quilted mural. Three months later, it’s done.
Now we have a “brick” path leading from the street to our entry gate; we have a “river” running down the front stairs and an “ocean” filled with turtles and whales. We have a unicorn, an all-seeing Eye of Horus, a chess board, a pregnant goddess — and dozens of lovely abstractions that look like whomever made them was having a lot of fun. That’s because the process was fun personified, like being a kid again, granted full permission to be imaginative and free. Seldom have I felt such uninterrupted happiness. Time disappeared as me and my friends, sprawled on hands-and-knees, dove into an infinite pool of creativity, smoking fatties, listening to 90’s hip-hop, dancing in the sun.
For the record, the following people made contributions to this massive project: Matei Badescu, Olivia Captain, Ryan Fox, Johnny “Stencil Master” Harper, Lilly Laurente, Von Marchand, Johnny Otto, Wyatt Taylor, Maxwell Tynes, and Michael Ziton. Two of these individuals are 4 year-old. Two are even younger. One of the charms of the driveway mural is that certain panels were obviously executed by adults; but you can’t tell if the vast majority of the other panels were done by a 54-year-old man or a little girl. The whole thing is redolent of childhood. Remember what that felt like?
The experience has taught me the virtue of patience, a quality I’ve sorely lacked (and am still working on). It’s taught me that all the things I believe I can’t do — like hand-lettering, for instance — are in fact all the things I can do if I only try. This driveway project has taught me countless lessons about art, paint, tools, weather, chemistry and, yes, breathing. Much of the fine detail work required a kind of meditative state, a willingness to be right here, right now — for 8 hours straight. Most of all it’s taught me that nothing fills me with more unrelenting, overflowing joy than to be outside, in the sun and wind, making something beautiful. Coming back inside to write seems now like mild punishment; liberty awaits in the garden.
We’re having an Open House and Reception for the Artists on April 14, Sunday, from 4-6PM. Refreshments will be served. Many of the creators will be on hand. If you’re in Los Angeles, consider yourself welcome. Drop by, have a stroll. And if you’re so inclined, grab a brush: we’re using the leftover paint to transform the rest of the property.