Mural 29 in Columbus, Ohio, the heart of Buckeye Nation

I went to Mexico with a group of strangers from Columbus.  Under the leadership of "El Guapo", the pastor from King Avenue church, most members of the team were there to explore the possibilities of bringing future groups to help the orphanage in Piedras Negras.  "El Guapo" knew about my murals.  Plans were in the works for a mural at King Avenue. too.  But, the others had no idea what was in store for them.  So, we gathered together, a bunch of people I'd never met, in the Columbus airport at five in the morning.

I'm never at my best at that hour.  There is only one thing that should be done at five in the morning and it involves closed eye lids and a little bit of snoring.  Okay, maybe a lot.  But, there I was at the airport, ready to meet a group of strangers preparing to feast on tortillas, salsa and guacamole.

I'm willing to paint anywhere, as you already know. And, I don't let language stop me.  Pointing and demonstrating goes a long way to communicate with people who don't speak the same language.  But, I must say, it was very easy to work with people of all ages who all spoke the same language as me.

Charming at 5:00 AM as well as 5:00 PM

The first person I met was Julia.  I asked the usual, "What do you do?"  Julia will tell you that she hates people to mention she looks like she's thirteen.  Hates it!  So, I won't make a comment about that, but I don't think anyone is ever prepared for her answer to that simple question.  She's a whirlwind of energy and a powerhouse of responsibility.  She pastors two churches in the poorest part of Columbus.  Poverty, homelessness, violence, abuse, and addiction are issues she faces on a daily basis.  Those issues are never a part of my life as I sit by my computer drawing cute little cartoons.

When Julia mentioned her work with teenagers, of course, the idea popped into my mind that maybe I could work with them on a mural.  I wasn't sure if there would be a need, and didn't know if I should bring up the subject.  Well, I didn't have to wonder about that very long.  Julia asked me if I'd be interested in a mural with her kids.  We were a match!

Now, Julia may have appeared calm, cool, and collected (as well as so very charming) on the outside, but I later learned just how excited she was about the project on the inside.  As I started the mural at the community center in the Hilltop area, two people told me something I didn't know.  On the morning we met, both of them received texts from Julia that she had found a muralist.  I would never text anyone at five in the morning.  Well, not unless I was really, really excited about something.

Happy text recipients, even at 5:00 AM