Urban-inspired mural taking shape on apartment building

Published 7:23 am Thursday, August 20, 2009

Greg Wimmer is an artist, but his medium isn’t well defined.

It’s part painting, part graphic design, and a little bit storytelling.

Wimmer does murals, with his latest piece of art currently coming to life on the side of a Main Street renovation in Austin.

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The Rochester artist is working on an urban-inspired landscape to adorn the outer wall of a developing apartment building at 125 Main St., next to Flaherty Paint.

“I like working outdoors,” Wimmer said of creating wall murals. “I like working on large scales.”

Wimmer’s latest creation will emphasize urban themes and loose, creative designs.

Large, colorful circles help break up the space, just like the windows on the side of the building do, Wimmer said.

The background of the mural features subtle images of Austin from years ago, but jumping out will be bright pictures with more modern appeal — such as a performing street musician, a bike rider and a group shopping.

“It has meaning,” Wimmer said. “It’s not just a picture.”

The 10-year veteran of wall murals has taken that approach with the rest of his 20 or 30 projects, many of which have been in Rochester, though he’s done work in Colorado and South Dakota.

Wimmer said his work is meant to create an inviting space and draw people in.

“It should be like a story,” he said. “It should pull people in and make them want to move through it.”

Mark Nagle was thinking along those lines even before he closed on the property in June.

Nagle, who is also part-owner of South Central Athlete and Grinder’s Deli in Austin, said he knew he wanted a mural right away.

“Why wouldn’t you do a mural?” he said. “That’s how I think — I’m creative.”

Nagle wanted something to accompany what he says will be a “cool” space — two trendy, urban apartments upstairs and possibly an art studio below.

He said he looked around the Internet and stumbled upon some of Wimmer’s work, which caught Nagle’s attention.

And when Nagle met the muralist, the owner said he knew he’d found the right person for the job.

“I gave him a few ideas and he took it from there,” Nagle said. “He got it right away.”

To actually get the ideas onto the wall, Wimmer went to work — on his computer.

The artist said a majority of the project has involved digital design elements, allowing Wimmer to map out his work, experiment with different colors and even project an outline onto the wall at night, allowing him to paint accurately.

Coming up with his final design was made easier because he and Nagle were on the same page, Wimmer said.

“I had a sense of where he was going,” Wimmer said. “I tried to come up with something I thought was interesting.”

Sarah Douty, Austin Main Street Project coordinator, said she thought the mural really showcased the transition of downtown — much of which has been spurred by the 27 storefronts renovated as part of the Main Street Project, including Nagle’s apartment development.

“I love how the mural is coming together,” she said. “It truly is a work of art, and one that the entire community can enjoy and hopefully relate to.”