Yamabushi Creates Giant 16′ Mural for a Mellow Mushroom Pizza Restaurant
Yamabushi collaborates with Muralist Ian Wilkinson to make amazing indoor mural for a Mellow Mushroom restaurant in Kentucky.
I got to team up with amazing painter and cereal muralist Ian Wilkinson on a project for hip pizza impresarios Mellow Mushroom. They were remodeling an old movie theater into a brand new premier pizza destination now located at Lexington-Green Plaza in Lexington, Kentucky. In Mellow Mushroom’s infinite wisdom they decided to prevail upon us to design a mural for the interior of the restaurant. Ian would end up doing a lion’s share of the work, but I got to design the centerpiece. This project would take months of planning and imagination to make work.
It was Ian’s choice to have the central character be a local female singer. We took a number of photos to try to get the right look and feel, for the project. The mushroom people wanted a psychedelic look, which I am expert at. I designed a few different pieces, to try to get the right look. I wanted the design to feel old yet have a modern context. I wanted the colors to be bright and eye catching. I have not been able to see one of my pieces that large( the main character is around 13 feet tall) so I was excited to see the finished product.
We did a photo shoot to capture the right look with our talented model Debrissa McKinney. We tried different glasses and outfits to get the look just right. We took a lot of pictures from different angles with lightning changes in an attempt to get the perfect picture for our purposes. We got Debrissa to pick out her natural afro to the height of flyness and snapped away. After a finished picture was agreed upon, my designing begun.
I approached this piece with a few different concerns. The first was that it had to be universal and rooted in something strong. When working for corporations you have to be subversive beneath the surface. Keep your intentions pure that is what they are paying you for. You have to give them as close to what you think they want as you can get away with. In my work that usually means using images you won’t get in trouble for using. How hard you bite. So I kept the design of a psychedelic space queen sitting on a throne of flux and galactic ether. I made it my own, let it flow.
Now with my small part done, I waited. The piece with the size had to be large format printed in template chunks and then assembled on site. The location in Lexington Kentucky, was an old movie theater that was being renovated into a new restaurant.
The piece I designed was the centerpiece and main focal point of the wide open floor plan. The mural was partially painted then installed and then painted on a little more by Ian and his crew. This created a layered effect visually, that further enhanced the piece. With the installation Ian was able to add a 3-D effect to the piece by putting segments of the design on to raised layers. This gives the main character a visual pop.
It is hard to describe the first time I walked in and saw it. Mixed emotions at some of the changes the corporate benefactors had made but such is life. It made me want to be rich, and make things big the way they could be. Mellow Mushroom made this happen, we fulfilled their thematic requirements. I am low man on the totem pole. From conception to completion it was interesting. I hope her being there makes people’s pizzas taste better. It is a cool gift to the city of Lexington Kentucky.