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A Sleepy Mural Town Wakes Up, Berlin-Based Duo “JBAK” Paints Arizona’s Largest

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

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The wind blew violently for the second day in a row as Karl Addison finished painting his final layer. James Bullough, the other half of the Berlin-based duo ai???JBAKai???, stood nearby and calculated the next move. After sun set, the building would be illuminated by a high resolution projector, at which point Bullough would begin his turn.

He was in a rush to secure a projector for rent by the time stores closed, or else the mural would be delayed even further. The previous day, Addison had spent up to ten minutes at a time strapped in a full body harness to a boom lift, swaying back and forth, waiting for the wind to subside.

ai???When you’re going this high, there’s no way to plan ahead. It’s like, ai???How many cans of paint are you going to need?’, and I say ‘I don’t fucking know’ [laughs],ai??? Bullough comments.

Indeed, a six story mural is undoubtedly difficult to plan for. It’s also unprecedented in Phoenix, whose downtown revitalization has produced a thriving mural scene in recent years, but rarely receives international artists or works of this scale.

Initial reactions can be garnered as people drive past during rush hour.

ai???We’re used to people yelling that they like the mural . . . but people have been honking their horns and yelling ‘thanks’ when they drive by. That kind of means something different, you know,ai??? Bullough explains.

The architectural landscape is dull and overrun with a barrage of earth tones, something that Bullough is quick to acknowledge. This new addition, however, will be a pleasant change of scenery for the many drivers who frequent Thomas Road just West of Central Avenue.

Still, for a city unaccustomed to an operation of this sort, it’s mildly entertaining to watch the logistics be sorted out. In order to project the image that Bullough will then paint over, there’s a possibility that they will detour a major street in the heart of Downtown without permits.

Laughing, Bullough hypothesizes, ai???The worst they’re going to do is tell us to get the fuck off the road.ai???

He pauses, then adds, ai???Well, I guess they might arrest us. This is Phoenix.ai???

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