Audrey Moore RECenter - Natatorium Mural
Mural Gives Wakefield a Pool with a View
Lost Atlantis is lost no more. Submerged beneath deep blue waters, visited by dolphins, orcas and tropical fish, its towers half buried in shifting sands, the fabled city has been recreated with brush and paint on a giant mural at Wakefield RECenter.
"We're so thrilled with the transformation," enthused Patti Gibson, Wakefield's assistant manager who coordinated the project. "Before, our pool area was gray cinder block -- blah and kind of depressing. We needed a pick-me-up to put some life down there. Now, when you do your lap workout at Wakefield, you feel like you're somewhere else, swimming with dolphins. And there's such a tranquil feeling. We are thrilled!"
Tim Grant worked the magic that turned dingy cinder block wall into a 2,600 square foot work of art.
Estimates from muralists had clustered around $20,000 for six weeks of work -- too expensive for Wakefield's budget, too long a time for completion while the pool was closed for routine maintenance. Grant offered $10,000 and promised the mural would be finished in a week.
He was accustomed to tight deadlines. His Ashburn company, Britten-Grant Event Design, specializes in backdrops for conferences, trade shows, theater productions, corporate galas and private parties. From the gardens of Versailles to New Orleans dressed up for Mardi Gras, from tropical beaches to snow capped mountains, Grant has made the scenes that set the theme. "For a New Year's party last year, I did Atlantis," he recalled. "I showed it to the staff at Wakefield, they liked it and we were off."
That first Atlantis was built in three days, which illustrates why Grant was so happy with the Wakefield project. "In the event business, you never get to do things as well as you like. It was a luxury to sketch the scene first, make changes and give the work the respect it deserves."
For seven days, he painted from 7 a.m. until almost 10 p.m. The long hours left Grant with blistered hands and an aching body. "It was a challenge," he conceded. "Wakefield's pool area presents the most hostile conditions to paint in -- trapped moisture, constant humidity, chemicals." To withstand the elements, he used industrial strength acrylic paint, the first time he'd ever worked in that medium. "It dried so fast on the brushes. I ruined dozens." There was no room for errors; if he didn't cover every inch of those 2,600 square feet, water could get underneath the mural.
Still, this was the opportunity Grant had worked towards and waited for since his art studies took him to Germany 12 years ago. There he painted backdrops for the theater department. "I'd always seen myself at an easel, but I discovered I liked the larger scale. It was so liberating." Now, after Wakefield's Atlantis, he'd like to put the event business on coast and concentrate on murals. "As an artist, it's much more satisfying. I can spend more time on the painting . . . and murals don't come down when the party's over!"