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Crazy Bernie

Every half decade I find myself working on a local business mural project and I did so again over the last weeks of April in 2011. World Furniture Direct bit the economic bullet towards the end of March and from its ashes came Crazy Bernie’s: Overstock, Closeouts and Consignment King.

When word was floating around that the owner, who I know through my wife, wanted a huge portrait put up on the side of his building I wasn’t seeking much anything in terms of commissions. At the time I was horribly bogged down by my MA project report which was expanding out of control (my grad chairman would later describe it as a political manifesto).

Crazy Bernie, #2 pencil on newsprint
≈ 8.5 x 11", 2011

I thought I could casually and safely offer a bit of charitable consultation for the project and asked to see what the local talent pool bid on the job. I was saddened that a graphic artist from Los Angeles was contacted and I half-jokingly criticized this plan. There were a few individuals in town I thought could do a good job and probably needed the work and if I wasn’t going to do it, the money should at least stay local. I also thought the potential gentleman’s bid was overpriced and under-planned. Making a lot of large-and-awful painting is my racket, after all!

The owner of said business did some digging into the bowels of the Internet and found my blog and my website with its very limited gallery of recent (and ancient) art. He was impressed. One thing led to another and I found myself dumbfound, gazing into a retainer check a few days later.

I hadn’t done a large scale project like this since around 2004(?) when my good friend Will DeLuna and I tackled a fun-spirited pro-stadium soccer scene for Fresno Indoor Soccer. That project was about 26’ long by 18’ tall and we completed it over about two weeks with Johnny Cash and Jack Johnson singin’ backup. I remember both of us being ecstatic to be working in the real world, outside of our undergraduate art classes.

The project for Crazy Bernie was originally planned to be about 7’ x 6’ while the name of the new business was certainly being outsourced. The name contained no less than 50 characters (not including the spaces and were cumulatively, approximately 30’ long. The portrait swelled into a huge monolith that only Constantine himself could appreciate, reaching a final size of 18’ x 10’.  All in all it was a fun project though it took me about 3 weeks to complete (mostly due to lettering).

If you login to your Facebook account you can see some process pictures and you can find the completed portrait in person at 4224 W Shaw Ave, Fresno, CA 93722. You’ll find some low priced furniture inside too.