My new mural at the Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta, Maine is now complete. You can see a portfolio of detail images here: Kennebec Mural. Just started adding images, many more to come.
Kennebec celebrates the river as road, home and workplace to the generations of ordinary people who traveled, traded and lived on the river. Within the forty foot mural five hundred years and 12 time periods coexist under the same eternal sky. As the river continues constant and unchanging, Christopher Cart paints the human story from Native American canoe to sailing ships to steamships.
The mural depicts ice cutting, logging, sailing ships and ship building, early Popham explorers and Abnakis, leisure days and travel and the hard work of the people who tended the land while raising families. This important shipbuilding river valley launched 4000 ships over the years, so it was a bustling, vital place of importance. The Kennebec river was a major highway to the world and seamen from this region could find fellow Kennebec valley men in any major port of the world.
Months of research were necessary for Cart to accurately portray proper period clothing, tools, ships and details from 500 years of life on the river. Particularly helpful was the vast image reference library at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. After the research, came the drawing of hundreds upon hundreds of “studies” of clothing, figure poses, tools and settings, to refine the details and the overall composition of the piece.
When plans were complete, the blank, primed mural canvas was applied to the wall in the Courthouse using 3 gallons of glue. Next the painting of the actual mural began with a scrubbed in underpainting. Cart’s detailed half size final drawings were then transferred to the canvas in charcoal using a traditional grid method to enlarge them. The mural was painted in archival acrylic paint mostly with one and two inch brushes. It is covered with a clear isolation barrier acrylic and three coats of final varnish.
Over fifty figures populate the mural, from a hardworking pregnant colonial wife to sailors aloft in the rigging. As a point of interest, many people connected with the Courthouse building posed as models for the mural, including several Justices, the building architect, construction foremen and workers.
Kennebec honors the men and women who came before us. They are no more, but their legacy endures.