The Zone Band of Gypsies Stone Blue

The Zone was a strange but fascinating project that I created for an independent study in high school (wow! that was a long time ago!). The original assignment was to draw the inside of something. For whatever reason, I started drawing the inside of a heating duct system. Off of each panel in the main channel, I drew another another channel, and so on until I ran out of room. Then I thought that I would use colored pencils to accent the drawing. Since there were four sides to each panel, four colors was a perfect fit. I still have the drawing, though it's not in very good condition, nor was it ever finished. This, because as I was coloring one day I came up with the idea to use it as the blueprint for a mural. Once I obtained permission and found just the right wall, I set out on a journey that I had no idea would be so involved.

To say the least, The Zone was an exercise in persistence. Having way too much time on my hands I worked almost constantly, 10-12 hours most days, for seven months. There were, I suppose, worse choices of my time. I would paint until the janitors would come up and, apologetically, tell me that they had to go home (I think they actually stayed late just to give me more time). I guess you could say that I was a bit consumed with the project. My art teacher made several efforts to sway me into "block filling" some of the uncompleted areas. I was absolutely furious. I had come so far and "quit" was not an option (football had its influence). I don't think that I had ever "chewed out" an authority figure before in my life (at least not without concern of  repercussion). I did not care. It would be completed - and he could fail me if he wanted to! We met again the following year to review, and remember. No issues. He had helped me a great deal in my artistic endeavors throughout high school.

Near the end of July of my senior year, there I stood in front of a wall that was completely filled in, save for one line. This last line, buried deep in the intricacies of the mural, I painted gold. Only then did I paint the gray brick wall around it black. The mural absolutely leapt off the wall and became even more 3D than it had been all along. I had finished with only days to spare as I was soon to leave for college football camp. Sadly, the single greatest accomplishment from my high school years - and my greatest artistic achievement ever - would never be seen by the vast majority of my class.

The wall that I had chosen for this "masterpiece" was ideal for the concept. It was at one end of a 150' hallway, with traffic routed to its left and right. As can be seen below, it became an extension to the hallway. It's really hard to see the 3D effect that it had (despite my doctoring of this photo). As luck would have it, at night the security light for the hallway was directly over my mural. That really could not have worked out any better.

Here's a close up of the central passageway. The picture actually fails to show the greatest level of detail. For instance, at the end of the main corridor it actually curves back to the left for about eight panels. You can also see the outline of the brick wall on which the mural was painted.

If you don't like sad endings, you should probably stop here. Some ten or so years after completing my single greatest artistic effort, my high school had become a middle school. Some mindless administrators decided that the area behind my creation would make a fantastic open area (I guess so that noise from this echo chamber could be shared with all of the rooms in the entire hallway). Anyway, they tore down the wall. No phone call to the artist. Nothing spared. I found out about its demise from some friends a year too late. It's not like the schools wouldn't have known how to get in contact with me either. My mother was a teacher in the district for three decades with eight kids graduating from these schools. Shameful!

Needless to say, I was a devastated. The best that I could offer to all those who followed me through those hallways was unceremoniously discarded. I would have liked to have been allowed to at least save a brick or two. Enter The Web. I now have the opportunity to share this image with a greater number of people than ever would have ventured into that darkened, isolated, second-floor hallway. It is not nearly the same experience as standing there, absorbing it all, but it is all that I have left of The Zone. Enjoy!