Herald and Journal, July 26, 1999

Art at a higher level in Waverly

By Angela Lachermeier

Lachermeier is a former resident of Winsted and now presently lives in Waverly with her husband, Ken Kutz.

There is a first time for everything, even when it comes to murals.

The storage building next to Pete's Grocery was like a blank canvas, just waiting for something to be painted on it. I viewed this blank wall for two years from our apartment that is above our shop, What Next?*!, in downtown Waverly.

It all became possible when Pete gave me permission to paint a mural on his building. I had never painted a mural before, but that was soon to change.

I presented my idea and designs to the Waverly Lions at their meeting. The Lions agreed to pick up the tab for paint and the rental of a scissor lift from United Rentals Aerial Equipment. I would donate the artwork for the project.

I gave myself a deadline of having it completed by Waverly Daze. I normally work better knowing I have a deadline. This deadline was reinforced over some radio spots that were broadcast over KRWC stating that I promised to have it done by Waverly Daze. That gave me six days to get this project completed. One of those days I was rained out!

The scissor lift was delivered promptly and made the whole endeavor possible. I don't think I would ever do a mural without this nifty piece of equipment.

The unit is motorized and on wheels. A push of a button could lift me up 26 feet in the air. Another lever could bring me from one side of the mural to the other side. It had a large platform for me to spread out all of my paint supplies and sketches for the mural.

The first time my husband, Ken Kutz, and I went up to the top of the building, I thought, "What in the world did I get myself into! I must be crazy to think I could paint up this high and have it done in six days."

That was a fleeting thought.

I knew there was no turning back and that I just needed to get comfortable with the height and accustomed to operating the equipment by myself.

I will admit that I don't like heights and I was very grateful that Ken helped me lay out the perimeter of the painting and grid it out with tape. By the time we finished the grid, I felt much more comfortable and confident with the project that I had gotten myself (and Ken) into.

I bought a book on murals that showed me how to lay out a grid and transfer my picture from paper to the front of the building. I also checked out a couple of Web sites on painting murals. The Web sites and book were very helpful when it came to some techniques and the kind of paint to use.

Ken and I put our first base color of blue on the stucco wall on the evening of July 4. The next morning, I decided it was too dark of a blue so we lightened it up with some white paint and rolled the paint into the stucco surface. That evening, Ken set me up with one of his paint guns and we painted the clouds in the sky.

The next day I started to paint in the trees, water, and some of the houses. I had done a preliminary watercolor sketch from the east side of Big Waverly Lake that I used as reference.

The design changed from the time I presented it to the Lions Club to the time I started the project. It still had the main subject items of the Waverly water tower, St. Mary's steeples and Big Waverly Lake, but I felt that a larger lake view would allow me to show more of the activities that Waverly has to offer.

It shows a view of Waterfront Park with skiers, boaters, swimmers and Pete Chmielewski, owner of Pete's Grocery, having the time of his life trying to pull in a big fish.

The sweltering heat and humidity throughout the week was alleviated some when Jim Thrift set me up with a huge umbrella to shade me from the sun. This worked out well until a gust of wind would catch the underside of the umbrella causing it to lift out of its metal base.

I tackled St. Mary's steeples on Wednesday morning when I was refreshed from a good night's sleep. I worked over the picture fine tuning the details and trying to decide what size fish Pete was going to catch.

I was rained out on Thursday. At the crack of dawn on Friday morning, Ken helped me measure and lay out a grid for the lettering, Welcome To Waverly.

He is such a perfectionist that I let him do all the measuring and math. The lettering was originally planned to be put in the sky over the clouds, but with some input from Pete we decided to put the letters under the picture.

This worked out a lot better because it was easier to paint on a wood surface than on rough stucco when it came to lettering. It also didn't cover up the clouds in the sky, which Pete liked.

Friday consisted of painting letters most of the day and putting a big fish on the end of Pete's fishing line. I made Pete wait until the very end before I let him catch a big fish. I finished the mural and signed it, just in time to hop into a kangaroo outfit provided by Wright Cancer Prescription.

Wrighty Roo, the kangaroo made a guest appearance at family night down at Waterfront Park to hand out coloring sheets to all the kids.

The mural was a wonderful experience and I had a lot of fun talking to all the people in the community. Many people stopped by everyday to check on the progress of the mural. I was touched by all the compliments and words of encouragement offered by everyone from kids on bikes to people yelling out their car windows as they drove by.

I answered a lot of questions from kids on drawing and painting.

My advise to them: "Just because you haven't done something, doesn't mean you can't do it. In other words, there is a first time for everything."


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