The Route 101 Mural:
Oil and Acrylic on Plaster wall
6 feet by 11 feet.

click to see larger image

Painted in San Francisco, 1999

This mural was a very exciting project, an interior wall at the Route 101 Bar, Van Ness/Sutter, San Francisco. The owner's idea was that from the sidewalk people would see a trompe l'oeil effect, as if there was another room in the bar with people in it. Finding models and composing the painting was challenging, and painting with an audience (the bar was open during the day) was also a new experience for me.

To avoid fumes, I used "water based" oils for the portraits and acrylic for the walls and ceilings. This was my first experience with the water based oils and they were very close to the quality of real oils. I recommend these for anyone who can't stand the furmes from oils.

The bar space has a very different feeling now, very welcoming for customers! It is also a real conversation piece in the bar. This project turned out very well!

Update: June 2000.... the mural has survived its first 8 months exposed to the bar patrons! There was some damage to Tim's face (far left character), possibly he was hit by a pool cue, and I came back in to repair it, which ended up giving him a new, more rough-and-tumble look. I also extended the two pool cues so that they go outside the edges of the mural, creating a great trompe l'oeil illusion. They look real! It's so fun to trick people.

I'm happy to report that not one person has maliciously damaged or grafitti'd the painting.

Update: August 2004.... the mural is still alive and well at the Route 101 bar! There have been a couple of interesting developments this year. One, the mural was graffiti'd slightly with a marker pen on Kelly (the blonde)'s arm. Two, the bar ceiling was repainted in a black matte color this year! So, I was called in for a little bit of repair, revision, and revarnishing. I repainted the ceiling to match the black color, and I actually had to eliminate the reflections on the ceiling (they used to look pretty cool, because they continued out of the mural and onto the real ceiling... but no longer, with a matte surface). The light coming in from the windows on the right now hits the ceiling in a totally different way, so that was changed too. Then I went over the whole painting and touched up any dings or marks. There were quite a few on Kelly, so I really had to repaint much of her face. Finally, I varnished with two coats of a special anti-graffiti varnish that I got from the Precita Eyes mural center here in San Francisco (it's called ShearCoat, I believe). The new varnish is glossier than the old, so the mural has a little more snaz and pizzaz than it used to. I love the new look and I'm way psyched that the mural is looking so incredible after ALMOST 5 YEARS. Wow!

All images copyright Gradiva Couzin, all rights reserved