Illustration of the mural painting by Meredith Miotke
6:00 AM: Wake up and rapidly remember that getting out of bed early is doubly impossible after an 11-hour road trip the day before. I drag myself to my parent's coffeemaker to get the day's fuel going while my boyfriend Narciso, my stepdad, and I finish loading up the cars with paint and ladders.
7:00AM: Head out to Detroit! It's typically a short drive from my parent's home, but I, the Detroit-area native, cleverly made it nearly twice as long by giving Narciso, who is Jersey City-born-and-raised, the wrong directions.
8:00AM: Three freeways and a very unnecessarily lap around our destination later, we finally arrive at the Detroit Institute of Bagels and start setting up. D.I.B. is an awesome little bagel shop (the best bagels I've had outside of NYC) in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. They asked me a few months back to illustrate a map of the area for them and paint it as a mural on the side of their building. Now that the weather was finally consistently nice, it was time to put on my big girl pants and tackle my first-ever mural.
9:00AM-11:00AM: During this time we get the feel for painting over brick (bumpy) and lay down the primer/base coat. We sneak in a few pics and then slide into the shop for breakfast before the brunch crowd picks up. I split the "Leo" and the "La Colmena" with Narciso, and internally weep due to with how tasty they were. I mean, chorizo on a bagel. Chorizo. On. A. Bagel.
Wall ready to go! The sign in front of it says "Wet Paint. BRB."
11:15 AM: Supply run madness! Narciso and I pop by Blick on Woodward to scoop up some more tape for blocking out areas of color and paint pens for the upcoming line work. We then run by the Russell Industrial Center (a former factory that's been turned artist studios in Detroit's north end) to borrow a projector from a friend who was going to beyond kindly let me borrow it last minute (thanks, Wes!).
12:30-1:00PM: Narciso and I get back to the wall and a few friends--Andrea and Grace--are waiting to help us bust out the next bits. We rapidly learn that it is way too gorgeous out (i.e. bright) to use the projector, so work is temporarily halted due to my lack of emergency planning.
1:30PM: Narciso figures out a grid system (yay bricks!) for us to use to lay out the roadwork of the map. From there, we decide to just eyeball it. Andrea, Grace, and Narciso block out colors where buildings are going to go according to print-offs of my illustration we scraped together. I start sketching the line work of the buildings out in my trusty as hell CWPE X Caran D'Ache Blackwood.
Sketching with the Blackwood, being far too cool to wear sunglasses
2:30PM-7:00PM: During this period, we wrap up laying out the blocks of color, and I start busting ass drawing all the final line work with the paint pens. It was beyond nice to finally hit a stride and see the mural really start to come together.
7:30PM: My parents come by to see what their crazy illustrator daughter has done so far, help us (it was just me, Narciso, and four ladders at this point) pack up for the day, and go grab dinner.
7:45PM: We get robbed.
I know, right? In my 20+ years living in the Detroit-area, Detroit itself, and this dual city life I'm living now, I had never been robbed. Needless to say, I felt my heart leap into my throat when the 70-year-old man who owned the neighboring bar ran over yelling to us that two kids had taken mine and Narciso's backpacks from the car while we were packing up just a few feet away. The bar owner, the fantastic PJ of PJ's Lager House, and his employee had just gotten back from chasing the two kids down. Absolute heroes. They lost the thieves, but suspected our bags might have been ditched nearby.
8:00PM: My mom and I search the abandoned lots behind the Michigan Avenue businesses while my stepdad calls the police. No luck. I feel like an enormous idiot. While Narciso had nothing of value in his bag, but I had just about everything in mine (laptop, credit cards, money, etc.).
8:20PM: I switch with my stepdad and wait for the police while he and my mom do another search. A wonderful woman who was at the bar and P.J. keep me company and bring me some water.
8:30PM: Defying all odds, our bags are FOUND. Completely intact. Nothing missing except a credit card that we would find the next day. Thankfully Narciso's bag is bright red and was spotted through the overgrown grass in the lots. We all breathed for the first time in an hour.
9:00PM: We securely pack up our things and put the cars in safe spots. The four of us then collapsed at a table outside PJ's. We all sipped on some much-needed beers (shout out to Bell's Two Hearted Ale), laughed/exhaled in relief, chatted with PJ and thanked him for the billionth time, and were surprised with some chicken fingers and burgers from the kind woman who kept me company earlier. We wait for the police, but they never show up.
11:00PM: We get back to my parent's place. I drag myself though the shower, round up all the cats in the house, and fell asleep in a big pile with them.