Abode to reveal Murillo mural

Abode to reveal Murillo mural

A SNEAK PEAK: Steve Murillo's latest monumental piece of artwork in Wichita is a commissioned mural on the side of Abode Venue and will be reveled Friday. Courtesy photo


What: Steve Murillo mural unveiling
When: Friday, June 27: 4-6 p.m. mural unveiling and artist reception, 7:30 mural dedication and 6-9 p.m. public Final Friday showing
Where: Abode Venue, 1330 E. Douglas
How much: Free; cash bar available.

Abode Venue promises a traffic-stopper with the unveiling of Steve Murillo's latest public mosaic project and a Final Friday party to match.

Abode owner Bill Jackson, who was inspired to open the venue because of his deep love for music, offered a piece of his poetry to Murillo as his vision for the commission.

"Music is an ethereal stream of magical energy flowing through our lives," Jackson said.

Much like the spectacles of light and sound Abode fosters in its diverse event space, Murillo's visual work channels a magical energy at times.

His art is a familiar fixture around town, from the neon-ribbed metal shade structures in front of the Warren Theatre in Old Town, to the illuminated "light saber" towers at Central and McClean and the monolithic stone solar calendar in Central Riverside Park.

Before he was an artist about town, Murillo earned both his BFA and MFA from Wichita State University, where he also taught for 15 years and acted as assistant curator at the Ulrich Museum of Art in the early 1990s. He maintains an active studio practice in Old Town, where he shares work space with Margi Sweeton and his son, Tom Murillo, both visual artists.

Alongside a team of variously talented collaborators, including Sweeton, Murillo has been busily jigsaw puzzling his vision for the Abode mosaic to life in the studio since December. Although trained as a painter and print maker, Murillo finds similarities between the practices.

"In many ways, it was like painting in stone and colored grout," Murillo said. "[The mosaic] has an expressionistic approach, which lends itself to the medium [which is] somewhat difficult to control because of the brutal nature of the materials: concrete and stone and ceramic shards."

Beginning with a painting, Murillo replicated his blueprint image in full scale on concrete board, cut it into 88 pieces to echo the number of keys on a piano, and relied on Sweeton to anchor thousands of individual pieces of tile, glass and stone to each puzzle piece before grouting them carefully together according to subtle color variations that unify the 3,000 pound mosaic.

"One has to think like a contractor when completing larger works [like this]," Murillo said. "Jackson has been very generous in his support throughout the process, giving me total creative freedom and no timeline. The goal has been to … embody the spirit of [his] poem [and] capture the mood of a timeless aesthetic which artists and art lovers alike share. There is no such thing as 'art for art's sake;' it is meant to uplift and inspire."

Murillo anticipates that viewers will have layered experiences with the work.

"The work will look as if it is a painting to most who drive by, [but] on closer investigation, the sculptural quality of the medium and the luster of the materials will be obvious and add to its appreciation."

The newly transformed south wall of the Abode Venue is easily visible from Douglas.

The reception will feature food from Anna Murdoc's and music by Epic Trio.