Project: Full Steam Ahead - 2014
Dimensions: 36' x 10'
Medium: Acrylics on custom panel with canvas surface
Location: WesCafe, 1518 Webster Street, Alameda

On breaks from my staff job at the front desk of the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, I would occasionally have lunch at Wescafe restaurant, a few doors down. On one of these occasions, I struck up a conversation with the friendly owners, Monica and Manuel, and when they learned that I was a muralist, they said that they would like to have a painting for their back wall, behind the bar. Their vision was of a large train, traveling down Webster Street in the old days.

                    (Photo from Woodruff Minor’s “Taking Care of Business” Courtesy Alameda Museum) p.27

                   (Photo from Woodruff Minor’s “Taking Care of Business” Courtesy Alameda Museum) p.27

As with many of my clients, I did some preliminary sketches, and in this case it was fortunate that I did.  As it turned out, they wanted a steam train, not a street car as I had assumed.  They made great suggestions, and had

many creative ideas for additions and adjustments including their daughters name on the side of the train. Then, once the custom panel was created (Many thanks to Ryan McJunkin at Oakland’s Faultline Studios) the painting took about 11 ten-hour days to complete. In the interim, I was doing historical research on the Lincoln and Webster intersection, and taking photographs of the main buildings on either side of the street that still exist today. I needed the right train, and some clouds. I wanted to accurately recreate the store fronts, and had to clean it all up, with many tonal and architectural adjustments. There also needed to be consistent morning light and shadows on the train, street, and sidewalk.

There was never an actual train that went down Webster, only Lincoln. In general, I don't like to portray historic misinformation in my paintings, but this seemed like a harmless and playful way of getting people to talk about Alameda's history, over a cup of coffee.

                                                 (Preliminary sketch for “Full Steam Ahead” mural)

                                                (Preliminary sketch for “Full Steam Ahead” mural)

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