Bryan Snyder paints the Carlsbad Art Wall in Collaboration with Alex Gall

click photos to enlarge

On August 12 and 13, Carlsbad artist Bryan Snyder completed an interactive mural project in collaboration with metal sculptor Alex Gall on the Carlsbad Art Wall (CAW) on the east facing wall of Señor Grubby’s in the Carlsbad Village.

Words by Bryan Snyder
photos: Jack Lungu | Supporting photos: Chad Richmond, Chris Donez, Bob Gric

The CAW project was developed with the idea of bringing new art to the Village, as well as creating an educational setting where aspiring artists can experience the creative process of mural painting. It was never about my art—I never thought I would paint it.

That was, until the Carlsbad Magazine ran a story chronicling my art career in the Carlsbad Village over the past decade. The article experience continued on my new website, but I felt the CAW provided the perfect opportunity to continue the article’s street art and community theme back to where it started—in the streets, on walls and among the residents and visitors of the Carlsbad Village.

The wide urban canvas with a high pointed apex provided the perfect composition for the “Power Plant and Barrel” design I had previously drip painted on canvas for my Snyder Art 2010 solo show. I had a few other designs in mind, but since the wave was used for the cover of the Magazine, I knew it was perfect.

I had been experimenting with the idea of taking my drip paint aesthetic to a vertical wall, but never found the right opportunity. I wanted to simulate the overlapping lines of varying color values, but keep the hard edge of stenciling. I had never painted a mural in this technique—what better way to experiment than on a large and highly visible wall within a hugely promoted community event!

This new labor-intensive technique was only one part of the experiment. Many urban artists, including myself, have implemented community engaging designs on walls. The 2nd CAW artist Morley encouraged hundreds of passersby to scribble thoughts on his mural. I feel the relationship with the wall and the community is paramount, but I had also been experimenting with the idea of expanding that interaction by adding another element to the equation.

Along with the painted wall, and the interacting community, I imagined the introduction of a third element—a sculpture. Not only would the community be engaging with the design on the wall, they would also be interacting with the ground, specifically a sculpture commissioned for this project.

I had been watching ex-pro skateboarder Alex Gall of Gall Artworks via Instagram. His skill and attention to detail was impressive, but what really attracted me was his passion. I related to his uncontrollable desire to create. I approached him with the idea of welding a life-size surfboard which would ultimately be installed at the base of a new mural I would be painting. There was never any hesitation—he was in.

Alex and I visited the CAW site multiple times in preparation. Alex was confident that he could meet my vision of a very authentic looking metal surfboard, but we were both concerned with the installation. It had to be safe, secure and angled appropriately in relation to the background wave. Alex made his measurements and returned to his studio to begin fabrication.

Alex kept me up-to-date on all his progress through photos and video. I was able to follow his creative process, which allowed our visions to stay inline from beginning to end.

The wall greeted me on the morning of day 1 with a fresh coat of white paint and a thin design outline. I stood at the base staring at the wall imagining the finished project, the installed sculpture and the interacting community. I knew it was going to be a long weekend, but I had no idea how far this project would push me.

I began rolling out the background colors of the mural around 8am. I mixed an assortment of valued blues at my feet and the early sun was already unforgiving. Early passersby eagerly asked what the design was going to be; I hinted at a nearby stack of Carlsbad Magazines. These early conversations were just the beginning, as I later found out the difficulty of balancing the many aspects of this project within a tight deadline.

I quickly found myself behind schedule in terms of painting, but I was having amazing conversations with the community. Within the first hour I had met knew friends, caught up with old and discussed topics ranging from local politics to Olde Carlsbad memories. I could have sat on the wood fence deep in conversation while doodling Magazine covers all day, but the wall loomed near.

Alex and his wife Laura arrived shortly after to inspect the site and prepare for the following day’s installation as I continued rolling out the base coat of the wave, sky and power plant.

Day one concluded with all the colors in place. Many thought the mural was finished, but I assured everyone that day 2 would transform the flat colors into a textured design of varying and interweaving values of blue, brown, green and tan. I packed up a day’s debris and returned home around 9pm.

A bit tired, soar and sunburned, I returned back to the wall at 7am Sunday morning to tackle the task of outlining each section with masking tape and introducing my new technique that quickly was termed “squiggle painting”. Wild and gestural lines were applied to the wall using one of the 35+ spray cans I had at hand. The wave itself was broken down to three sections including dark, medium and light. I used three values of blue for each section totaling nine different values of blues in the wave alone.

The sun increased its intensity as the crowd grew in size. I found myself chasing multiple cans of paint around the dusty ground, climbing up and down the feeble ladder and engaging in the most conversations I have ever had in a 12 hour period. Well before noon and I already felt worn down.

I painted through the morning and into the afternoon with sporadic Doodle illustrations drawn in Sharpie on the covers of Carlsbad Magazines. I promoted the opportunity to receive an original Doodle to anyone who brought a copy of the Magazine, but I had no idea how popular that opportunity would be. A long line often formed along the wood fence. This was one of the most amazing moments of my career. No matter how behind schedule, how far up on the ladder or how tired I was, if I saw someone with a Magazine in hand, I found the nearest Sharpie, introduced myself and began Doodling.

Alex and his team were on site all day preparing for the installation of his sculpture, interacting with the community and catching up with friends. The project quickly turned into a Carlsbad reunion with many friends Alex and I had not seen in years. Our families spent hours at wall, a City of Carlsbad Arts Commissioner visited multiple times and urban art enthusiasts visited from afar. Bob, one of these enthusiasts, photographed his ’63 Impala in front of the mural adding the CAW to his collection of nearly 500 murals documented behind his car. The mural was well behind schedule, but the engaged culture was a masterpiece.

The Sun had begun its descent on the final day and I knew it was time install the sculpture. Like a surfer waiting for sunrise the early morning before a foretasted swell, the crowd became antsy. They wanted to surf and the swell was building. I frantically buzzed around the mural while Alex grabbed some cans and assisted. I was really feeling the pain of 20+ hours moving up and down a ladder; my voice was nearly gone and I was filthy from the sticky spray paint air infused with the ever-present dust cloud.

Alex began digging the holes while I focused on the center of the mural. I knew if I could finish the strip in the middle, the board could be installed and I could maneuver the ladder around the sculpture. My last spray at the top of the wall was finished as Alex and crew began mixing the quick-dry cement.

The two vertical posts were sunk into the dirt elevating the board 18in. off the ground directly in front of the barreling wave. The cement was poured around the posts and a blanket was removed exposing the metal surfboard sculpture. The gathering crowd applauded. Alex and I caught grins as the visions that had consumed our lives finally came to fruition.

At this point I was approaching delirium, but saw the finish line as the mural base coat disappeared behind thousands of sprayed lines. At the moment when I thought it was finished, I stood back and noticed areas that needed touching up. After an hour of up-and-down the ladder and back-and-forth from the base of the wall to a wide view, it was finished. I tossed the last spray can in the air and announced the completion of Carlsbad’s newest mural.

The community immediately jumped on the board while cheers and laughter echoed off the wall. Alex and I sat back and experienced the vision come to life. I set out to create art, but art not as a mural, and not as a sculpture—but art in the form of an experience created by all whom interact with it. I simply facilitated the creative process and the community created the finished masterpiece.

I turned to Alex and told him—while pointing at a father on the sculpture with son on shoulders and mom taking a photo—and a line of families eagerly awaiting—that is why we did this!

Click HERE for all the photos

Click HERE for all press

Click HERE to submit a design

Click HERE for photos of past CAW murals

Started in March 2015, Carlsbad Village based artist Bryan Snyder will be bringing a street artists/muralist every 2 months to paint a mural on the east facing wall of Señor Grubby’s in the Carlsbad Village.

Click HERE for photos of Snyder’s street art workshop: August 8

The goal of the Carlsbad Art Wall is to serve as a conduit between aspiring artists and professional artists, to provide a platform to engage and educate the Carlsbad community in the creative act of large scale public painting and to introduce a variety of new art and creative processes to the Carlsbad community.

Directions to the Carlsbad Art Wall located at Señor Grubby’s

1 Response to “Bryan Snyder paints the Carlsbad Art Wall in Collaboration with Alex Gall”

  1. 1 Chela francisco Aug 26th, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    Amazing! Wonderful, many many congratulations to you and Alex! Thank you for this!

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