In the strictest sense of the word, a mural means a piece of art that's applied directly to the wall. Yet, when talking about Boardman Robinson's moveable series and Eric Bransby's work, which will be finished before applying it to the grand hallway wall, they seem more like paintings than murals.
That's because such a notion is only part of a mural's definition. To be more precise, a mural is a work of art that's meant to complement the architecture of the building. And that means it stays in place permanently. (The fact that Robinson's were removed from the department store is an exception to the rule; murals are usually destroyed with the building.)
Bransby takes that kind of responsibility seriously.
"Easel paintings, the spectator sees them maybe for five minutes and moves on ..." he says. "The mural's on the wall and hopefully forever."
So the work must not only be visually "comfortable," but substantial in its mission. "A wall has to have a message. The message has to be equally good next year, and 10 years down the road and so forth."
When speaking on the purpose of murals, Bransby quotes the architect Louis Sullivan, who related buildings to plants and murals as ornamentations that are flowers on the building. It's an organic growth, and one that's been missing from contemporary buildings.
"People are hungry for that humanistic aspect, and so, in a sense, this is where the building bursts into flower," he says.
There are several types of murals, one of the oldest forms being fresco, which Bransby has done on and off since World War II. This involves applying paint onto wet plaster; it binds to the plaster as the plaster dries and absorbs carbon dioxide. When finished, it's extremely hard, heavy and durable. You can find a true fresco in the FAC's courtyard in the frieze of horses by Frank Mechau.
For his FAC mural, Bransby will borrow from the fresco process, using acrylic paint on panel. While a normal fresco process uses layers of plaster, he will simply borrow the element of completing the creative concepts ahead of time. All the colors will already be chosen and paints mixed. The lines will be transferred to the boards by way of tracing and carbon paper. A consistent layer of under paint followed by a different top coat will emulate realistic flesh tones and hues with dimension.