The commute along West Bay Road is turning into an artist’s paradise.
The site of the former Mitzi’s Fine Jewelry store was transformed into a giant tropical green canvas last week by Ian Ross and Amandalynn in advance of next February’s KAABOO festival.
Amandalynn, the artistic director for KAABOO, has been painting murals all around town to prepare for the first Caribbean edition of the arts, music and culinary festival.
First, she painted a pastoral scene of butterflies on the side of the Camana Bay underpass, and she assisted in Jet Martinez’s floral work across from the Bay Market. Then came the giant geometric jungle patterns designed by Mr. Ross, a work that took a full week to take shape.
“Everything I do is spontaneous,” Mr. Ross said. “That way, I can make decisions on the fly and react to variables that occur in the location. It’s always a learning process, and each piece I feel is more original if I don’t know what it’s going to look like when it’s done. That’s an integral part of what I do, and everything kind of connects from one to the next. It’s all continuous stream of consciousness.”
The muralists estimated that they went through about 15 gallons of paint plus 50 or 60 spray cans to complete the design. First, they removed all the building’s awnings and signage, and then they blasted in the base color green and began freehanding the swirling lines and intersecting patterns.
They needed a giant industrial vehicle to reach some of the higher spots on the building’s façade, and Mr. Ross joked that you need “bigger tools” when you’re going to paint “bigger walls.”
“Even if you know what you’re doing, it’s tough. Especially with the heat,” Mr. Ross said. “The mosquitoes in the evening can be really rough. But I guess the sun has been the toughest factor. This wall is never shaded during the day, and if you’re up high, that adds an element of concentration. You find yourself sweating more and expending more energy when you’re up high in the full sun.”
Amandalynn said she will not return to Cayman until December, when she will begin work on a group of gigantic murals that will decorate the stage and structures of KAABOO’s concert sets.
Another group of muralists have also begun painting walls around Cayman, including a recent work done at Morritt’s and at Margaritaville. For Amandalynn, that is the perfect example of artists inspiring each other, and she said she has met many like-minded painters on location.
“I explained this to my boss,” she said. “If you stand outside and paint a wall, these artists will attract to you. It’s been really wonderful. I really started a lot over at my tunnel mural. I taught a little class on mural arts and did a lecture. And this whole-time, we’ve had two or three artists come by per day. It’s been inspiring to learn about other parts of the world and the work that everybody’s doing.”
For Mr. Ross, who is based out of the Bay Area in California, the work brings satisfaction in multiple dimensions. The building art can last decades, he said, and it can help transform the entire neighborhood by giving artists ideas that they can recycle and take in new directions.
“When you put energy into the community in a somewhat derelict space, that can be contagious,” said Mr. Ross, who has been painting murals for 15 years. “It can inspire other people to do something similar in their neck of the woods. It can be a chain reaction of good vibes coming out of that.”