A trio of artists is working to transform the upper portion of a downtown Brownwood building into a large mural — one that will symbolize the book shop that will be housed inside.
The building, in the 200 block of Center Avenue, is across the street from Pat Coursey Park and sandwiched between the Taylor Clinic building to the left and the Krischke CPA building on the right. The building was once the home of the Queen Theatre, and most recently housed the Scrub Shoppe.
Runaway Train owner Kim Bruton, along with husband Brent, now own the building and is remodeling the structure, planning to open the Intermission Book Shop inside. The name is a nod to the former Queen Theatre, Bruton said.
She said she hopes the book shop will be open in some fashion by the end of the summer. "With everything going on, it’s hard to say," Bruton said.
The Bulletin will speak more with Kim Bruton for a future article about the book shop, which will also include coffee.
"Hey, smile!" 31-year-old artist Myranda Moody called out as she prepared to take a cell phone photo late Friday afternoon.
Moody, at street level, was addressing fellow artist Jeremy Serna, who worked high in the air, standing in a bucket at the end of a boom lift.
Serna, who is 46, owns Painting With Friends, a business on Fisk Street, and Moody works for Serna at the business.
Veteran muralist Amanda Coers, 40, is part of the artist trio.
Coers was the first of the three who got involved in the project, and realizing the project was too big for one person, Coers asked Serna to help. Serna brought along Moody to assist with the project.
The three have faced challenges of overcoming their discomfort at heights and learning to operate the two boom lifts they’re using, which are from Roberson Rent-All. The trio began working Thursday and hope to finish by this coming Thursday, Coers said.
Coers got involved with the project after Bruton asked her if she would paint a mural on the front of the building’s upper portion.
"She saw a picture of a mural that had been done, I think by a German artist, and it was a bookshelf full of books on a building," Coers said. "She asked if I could paint something like that on the front of her new book shop.
"I said ‘yes’ and then I came and saw the building, and I knew immediately that I could not do it by myself."
Coers explained the mural’s concept.
"We’re painting a mural that’s going to (depict) a bookstore and coffee shop," Coers said. "And the mural itself is a bookshelf full of books. There will be some knick-knacks, and the really fun part is that all of the books are going to have different titles. Some of them are clues to history and events around this area and others are going to be just favorites of the building owner. There may be a book or two that we hide in there."
Coers and Serna are doing most of the high work using the lifts, with Moody taking over when one of them needs a break.
"We are working on a grid, which is helpful," Coers said. "It’s not like we’re up there free styling. We have a picture that we’re drawing to scale. And we’re communicating about color choices with each other. We’re communicating about our vision.
"All three of us are communicating about how we think it should look. There’s no egos that are getting in the way, which is huge. Sometimes when artists work together, egos get in the way and then projects don’t get completed. But here it has been seamless. There’s no egos, there’s lots of back and forth, sharing, discussing."
Coers said it’s difficult to paint on the brick of the building, and the height is an issue "just because you’ve got to go a little bit slower and be safe. It’s a very different experience.
"One of my biggest fears is heights. I don’t enjoy anything higher than a two-story, and this is certainly a lot higher than that. I’m very uncomfortable with heights, but I told my kids when I started this ‘I don’t want to let fear stop me from doing what I love.’ So I hope my kids can see me do this and it helps them with their own fears."
Coers said when she’s up high, she tries to focus on "the two-foot-square section of wall in front of me, and I don’t look down. I play music and I tell myself ‘I’m only 10 feet up. I’m only 10 feet up.’ And then I can work a little bit better. And I pray. I pray a lot."
When asked how he likes the height, Serna replied, "I don’t. Not one little bit. I look over and I see that Amanda is up there and she has no fear in her eyes. And I look over and I see Myranda up there and she has no fear in her eyes and I’m like, OK, these girls are up here, I gotta get up here too."
Serna said at his business, Painting With Friends, he provides canvas and materials for clients. "I demonstrate and teach them to paint a painting in two to three hours," Serna said.
Moody said she teaches children’s classes and assists with adult classes. Moody, who has taught in public schools for 10 years, will be teaching kindergarten in the coming school year at Northwest Elementary School.
When the trio began the project Thursday, one of their first tasks was to go onto the building’s roof, which they accessed from the attic.
"We had to climb all the way on top of the building and lay down, and we dragged some chalk lines down to make straight lines," Moody said. "We measured every two feet. I was laying on my stomach and just looking down."
Moody said the experience was exhilarating, but also made her nervous. "But I knew if we didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done so I just went for it," Moody said.
When asked how the work of three artists will create a seamless mural, Serna said, "well … we don’t know yet. We haven’t got to that part yet."
In the beginning phase of the project, Coers said, the artists are working "to put down blocks of color and to situate the objects, and see what we’re doing so we can go back and refine them, put in shadows, put in the defining lines. We do have a lot more to do on our high part, which we’re not looking forward to.
"The learning curve on those (lifts) has slowed us down a little bit, because just figuring out how to drive those has slowed our process down. (Friday) was a lot faster, so probably by the time we finish on our last day, we’ll be driving these all over town."
Preparing to go home at the end of the work day Friday, Coers said, "I’m excited about something like this because it feels like it will be permanent. I can see myself as an old lady sitting over at the park across the street with my grandchildren, and (telling) them ‘grandma did that’ and just watch their face."
Or she might just "quietly sit there and hear other people walk by and say something about it and I can sit there in silence, and just know that was me, that was my crew and that was what we did when we were young."