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Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Mural Behind Taco Villa in Midland TX

We were traveling around west Texas a couple of weeks ago--me doing my sales thing, Jan reading and taking in the sights of Midland and Odessa, and between calls we made a stop at a McDonald's for a break. While I waited in the car for Jan, I looked over some trees and noticed a very life-like scene of a mountain and a Spanish monastery just past one of the trees in the parking lot of the Taco Villa restaurant next door. The colors were very bright, and the perspective was near perfect--it looked real for a second! We drove across the street and parked the car to investigate.

The mural was painted on a stucco or concrete structure that had been built on the building behind the Taco Villa. I think it was a fruit or produce warehouse, but it was seemingly empty. The effect of the mural, however, was to place the Taco Villa in the middle of a small South American town. The detail and colors were magnificent, and I just couldn't resist trying to capture some of that in the camera.

A couple of things I truly admire about the artist who painted the mural, Debbie Blakely (you can see her signature in the pot in the image below), are the way she made the artificial structures of the building (the drainpipe in the photo above, for instance) blend in with the mural, and her use of painted shadows to enhance the 3-dimensional quality of the painting. Check out the shadow of the ladder in the image below to see what I mean.

The architect on the mural, Kent Taft, also added to the 3-dimensional quality of the mural by making the houses stand out from the streets and background. Real plants mingled in with drawn plants also add to that effect. The stones in the walls, however, are drawn.

I have many favorite areas in this mural, but the image above would be my "most favorite" if I had to make a choice of only one. The way the shadows are drawn fools my eye at least into believing that the lantern really is hanging off the wall. The cat, too, looks like it's sitting half a foot away from the "wall." I also really like the way the door is painted. I had to go up and touch it to make sure it really wasn't old rugged boards instead of paint on concrete.

As I mentioned, the mural was behind the Taco Villa, and Taco Villa sponsored the artists who made it. I think it is interesting that T.V. gets two "plugs" in the mural. The first and most obvious is on one of the pots in front of the woman tending the plant in one of the images above. The not-so-obvious plug, and a pretty humorous one, is in the image just above these notes. Look at the elderly couple walking along the market, and notice the woman's handbag. (You may have to click on the image to see a larger version to really see it.) I thought it was truly ingenious. and it made me smile.

Last image is of the Taco Villa itself. I thought it was fitting that the restaurant should be included in this little essay. I am sorry to say that we did not eat there. And after the events of this week with my job, it looks as though we might not be back that way for a while. The company effected a Reduction in Force (read that as mass firing) and I was a casualty. But have no fear, I will continue to take photos of things and places that interest me (and hopefully you). They just might be a little closer to home for a while.

Till next time, all the best,
Mike Z

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