Artist: Gaia (Andrew Pisacane)
City of Altruism
How were you contacted to create this piece?
The idea for the mural came from a friend of my father’s, Steven Cullen. He was involved with a panreligious group and was friends with a rabbi and a man named Don Kilburg Jr. They [the group] were following a theme of the year of altruism. He got everything together and did the fundraising, and I did the organizational and logistical stuff. I don’t know how we got the wall.
What was the inspiration of this piece?
Obviously, every mural’s job is to take a lot of conflicting interests and find something to connect them. The organizers wanted to produce a theme aligned with the values of the year of altruism. Personally, I was interested in the conversion of Greenville’s mills and old industrial past into a service economy. The waterfall featured prominently in the middle of the piece serves as a way to connect the evolution of the mills. These buildings were where people once earned a middle-class wage, were shuttered and then found a new life as high-end apartments and restored event spaces.
The crumbling and warping represents the transition of this use from one of labor to one of leisure. The lilies represent the gales of progress. These same forces rendered the mills obsolete and found new use for them.
As we were painting the piece, a member of Don Kilburg’s Catholic church came up and complained to me that there was no acknowledgment of the black community in the mural. A lot of the faces were white working faces during segregation, which was an unintentional consequence of working in the mills.
It’s difficult to make an improvisation on the spot, but it was important to me to make this person happy and the black community included. I asked if they could give me a symbol. They talked about the housing typology and I asked for a photo. She had a friend who was a veteran and was part of her church who had a photo of the duplexes in the area. The gentleman had the photo on his phone, but the photo album was locked.
I ended up photoshopping a bunch of stuff together to match the type of duplex and asking the gentleman if it looked like the duplex he used to live in.
What type of paint did you use to create the mural?
Some masonry primer, exterior Sherwin-Williams latex paint, then you have the Montana Gold spray paint for details and shading. To prime the piece, I had a Graco paint sprayer. That allowed me to blast through all the different textures.
How long did it take to create?
It took seven days because of lift rentals. If you take eight days, you have to pay for two weeks.
What is your favorite part of the piece and why?
I really like how soft the lilies are. They are just kind of delightful and soft compared to the jagged edges of the crumbling brick. Especially as the building kind of fades and warps into the lilies around the windows. It looks kind of photoshoppy.
When was it completed?
Located at 307 Falls St., Greenville.