Monday, January 01, 2007

A vision on concrete block

Swimsuit mural
London, Ontario, December 2006

As 2007 dawns, I wanted to revisit one of the core themes of my writing: that inspiration often exists in the places where we'd least assume. The simple, often-overlooked nooks and crannies of our planet seem to hide the most fascinating things - and that's where we need to look for the sparks of guidance that will dictate our future path. More simply, beauty exists in the most unexpected places. I'll keep turning over the plain-looking, figurative rocks to find it. I hope you do, too.

But enough of the prologue. On with the show...

A smallish, otherwise-nondescript building along a forgettable stretch of a busy road houses an insurance broker. On one side is a dodgy-looking bowling alley. On the other sits an abandoned gravel lot that used to be a gas station. It's been surrounded by a gradually collapsing chain link fence for a couple of years, awaiting a redevelopment project that shows no signs of ever coming. It's not the kind of the place where many people stop and gawk.

But the north wall of the building is home to the fascinating beach scene depicted here. I snapped it on my walk to work. In recent months, I had noticed a few such murals on various buildings in and around the downtown area. I made a mental note to come back with a camera, but never seemed to find the time.

I found the time this morning. I'm glad I did, because as I composed the shot and played with the settings, an early-at-work employee peeked out the window and saw me. I waved. She waved back. I hope she wonders about my parking lot photography as much as I wonder about what it must be like to work in a building whose owners took the time to have this painted. Everyone's got a story, after all.

Your turn: Got any concrete block murals in your neighborhood? What does this one make you think of?


sage said...

If we were really having winter, that mural would be a hoot, with snow in the foreground. But it'd reflect what a lot of folks have on their mind. The theater in my town has a mural with movie scenes.

May 2007 be good to you and yours.

Tara said...

My adopted town, Pembroke, has dozens of murals in the downtown area. It's a tourism and heritage thing. They do tours.

My favorite is the "March Toward the Millenium" mural.

It has actual people that have lived in the town since the beginning, all parading towards the new millenium, ending with the mother and first baby born in 2000.

Tara said...

Oh, ya. Michelle sent me. Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

That window on the mural reminds me of an escape hatch!

Happy 2007 Carmi!

Anonymous said...

Several murals in my small town...but themed to the business wall they adorn. The most meaningful ones I have seen are along the 10 Freeway in L.A. where graffiti taggers/artists turned pock marked, spray painted gang names into stunning pieces of art that tell the story of the city, the people, the children and the hope that has to be held onto in a place that has so little. Happy New Year and thank you for a stunning blog site.

kenju said...

We have a few murals downtown, but I have never shot a pic of them. Maybe now I will.

That woman in the bathing suit is obviously meditating; reminding me that I need to do it - to achieve the serenity of that beach without actually being there (although being there isn't bad at all!)

Anonymous said...

Carmi I can't think of anywhere here in Alabaster, Alabama that we have a mural like that...which is a shame.
This mural makes me think of the kid who gets in trouble and has to sit in a "time out" chair. He pouts as he looks at his mom and says, "I might be sittin' on the outside but I'm standin' on the inside!"
Conversely the folks in that building might be working on the inside but they're vacationing on the outside!

Anonymous said...

Inspirations do exist where we least expect to find them........I you it feeds my writing and enhances my life when I take the time to acknowledge the tiny crevices.

Given the description of where this mural is located, my first thought was that it seemed like an oasis of serenity in the middle of urban decay.

The colours also remind me of Sarasota for some reason......


srp said...

Down at the beach front there are several. One is a beautiful painting of a German Shepherd dog with the dress uniform hat and gloves of a policeman as well as his gun and holster. Another is a Dalmation with boots and helmet of a fireman. Both are dedicated to the police and fire department of NYC. What talent and time went into these!

Now I understand what you meant on a previous post... about heading for the beach!