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Florida artist with world record paints mural in Charleston

September 1, 2018
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ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, SEPT. 1-2 - In this Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 photo, Jason Tetlak, an artist from Florida, paints a mural on a pier of the Interstate 64 underpass as part of the Gallery 64 Pier Murals project in Charleston, W.Va. (Craig Hudson/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Earlier this year, Jason Tetlak painted a 3-D image of the Beastie Boys so large it set a world record.

The 22-foot-tall, 91-foot-wide painting is on the side of a building in the neighborhood of Brooklyn in his city of Jacksonville, Florida.

“I was trying to figure out what I was going to paint on the wall,” Tetlak said of the reason he painted the rap group. “My daughter actually was like ’Brooklyn? Like the song? And I was like, ‘That’s a great idea.’ So I just kind of ran with that. It was just kind of a natural fit.”

Tetlak’s latest work, though, is on display in Charleston. He was in town recently to paint a mural that’s part of the Gallery 64 Pier Mural project under the Interstate 64 bridge.

“I overlay texts on top of each other to create an abstract pattern,” he said of his work on the pier mural. “And I use colors to kind of hide a message in the piece. So when I’m finished, people will be able to read the hidden message in the piece.

“But they’ll have to work for it,” he added. “It won’t be obvious.”

Tetlak, 41, said his job as a graphic designer supports his art hobby. He’s been doing art for as long as he can remember, he said.

The piece in Charleston is similar to artwork he’s preparing for his show called “Burn After Reading,” which will be on display at Space Gallery 42 in Jacksonville November through January.

“All the pieces will have a similar effect where there’s hidden messages in all of the paintings,” he said of the show. “I’m about three-quarters of the way done with those pieces. I had to take a break and come up here for this.”

Coming to Charleston Wednesday through Saturday was the first time he stopped to see the city. A northeast Ohio native, Tetlak said he had driven through before but never stopped to visit.

“I came in (Wednesday) night, got in around 5 p.m. and came right out here and worked until dark,” he said Thursday. “So I’m hoping maybe tonight to see more of the town than just this one column.”

The 3-D mural in Jacksonville took him 50 hours in one week to paint. He painted the mural in March, but getting the record certified took longer than a year. It required a review process, a surveyor to measure the wall, witnesses and paperwork, he said. He just officially got the record certified about three weeks ago, he said.

Tetlak is one of six artists adding murals to Gallery 64, formerly known as the Peer to Pier Public Art Project, this summer.

“For me, anytime I see a gray wall or just a tan wall I can’t help thinking, ‘Why would anybody who lives here or works here not prefer to have some sort of artwork on the wall instead of a gray slab of concrete?’” Tetlak said. “So it’s great to see this kind of thing happening.”

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.

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