Annie Wildbear here with an important announcement. It’s kind of like a birth announcement and what more appropriate time for that then Easter Sunday!
Here it is. The tribute mural to commemorate Route 66’s own, beloved ROBERT WALDMIRE!
As many of you may already know, Ned Leuchtner is the owner of Cool Springs. He Like Bob was, is deeply passionate about the history and preservation of the “Mother Road”. Ned told me that the process began quite a while ago when he and Bob formed a special bond through their shared dedication. Ned also owns another (former) gas station along the route. This station is located on Route 66 (12888 Oatman Hwy.) in Topock/Golden Shores, AZ. It was a 1970s gas station and Ned restored it to look like a Phillips 66. Together they came up with the idea to paint a mural on one of the exterior walls of the station. It was Bob’s way of continuing his mission to enhance his beloved road. When Bob realized he would be too ill to paint the actual mural from his concept, he told Ned that he would have to find another artist to commission to do the job.
That’s where I came in. As chance would have it, Ned and I met. I found out about his interest in the project and the rest, as they say, is history (in the making).
Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet Bob myself. Because of this, I had to do what ever I could to learn more about this iconic character of Route 66. I scoured the internet to absorb and immerse myself in as much information as I could about Bob. My husband and I even purchased a set of his postcards from eBay so I could get as close as I could to recreating Bob’s distinctive drawing and lettering style. The concept drawing was an excellent guide, but it was just a guide. I wasn’t there, but judging from the dates Bob wrote on the drawing and knowing the date he died, he probably wasn’t up to his usual when it came to the added details. There were still a lot of blanks and the concept wasn’t to scale. I had to try to figure out, based on the information I gathered about Bob and his style, how he would have completed it.
I wasn’t ready to start painting yet. First the wall had to be prepped. The existing paint was faded and flaking. If I painted the mural directly on top of this old painted surface the mural would have immediately just flaked off with the old paint. We then had to go about the process of removing all of the old paint and repainting with a fresh coat. How was I going to get up there? On a scaffold, of course! That took a little getting used to at first. I had to not look down and overcome any fear of heights. I worked in intense heat, freezing cold, driving wind and on one of the roughest stucco surfaces you can imagine. Painting on that stucco took about five times as long as painting on a smooth surface like drywall.
If you’re on the road, driving through Topock, please stop and take a look. It’s an excellent photo op and just in time for The Route 66 Fun Run.
I felt like Bob was guiding me through every step of the way.I only hope I did him proud!
Annie Wildbear will be participating and doing a live painting at the first “Art Walk on Main” in Uptown Lake Havasu City, AZ on April 10th, 2010 from 5pm to 8pm at Scoops Ice Cream Parlor. Come by and say hi!
For more details and pics visit Annie’s blog: