Abbi Clark is a recent graduate of Rock Creek Highschool who’s headed to Butler University in the fall. She’s been working at Paramour Coffee in downtown Wamego for the past 3 summers now & that’s where this story begins.
Paramour enthusiasts know Abbi not only as their local barista but also an artist, primarily for her local, holiday window art. One day, Clark says, a Sonic employee visited the local coffee shop and asked her for her number. The employee had heard that Sonic has been wanting to do something with the large, cement retaining wall between Wamego’s Sonic Drive-In and the Wamego High School’s parking lot and heard about Abbi’s painting abilities. The thoughtful employee (Rico) put Abbi in contact with his manager (Shannon Smith), they met in person & began brainstorming designs for the large retaining wall. “He really wanted something to represent the Wamego community”, she said, “he wasn’t sure if that should be a Red Raider, which would have been difficult being that I’m a Rock Creek Graduate”. Despite her excitement at the opportunity to paint enormous cheeseburgers, they didn’t want it to simply be a larger-than-life advertisement. Out of all the possibilities, they decided to run with the Wizard of Oz theme, “being the town of Oz, as we like to call ourselves”.
Abbi says she began this project a week ago, on Monday. Sonic power-washed the retaining wall, she spray primed the wall Wednesday at 2 am (it had rained when she originally planned to spray prime) and grabbed breakfast at Paramour just as soon as they opened, before going home and resting. Upon returning, she spent 2 days sketching out a grid to scale the four, famous friends up, larger than life. This Monday she began painting the sky and has been meticulously mixing gallons and gallons of paint in a painstaking, yet satisfying method requiring layers upon layers of brightly pigmented paint.
“You’ve got to love local art. For me, personally, it was both about sharing my art with the community and also, landing bigger projects… You go to other cities and they’re full of murals”, Clark says. When asked where else she’d like to create murals, she’s interested in making the best use of a space and enjoys a blank canvas as many artists do, “I mostly just like big walls, right?” she laughs, “There are some places in Aggieville (Manhattan, Ks) that are huge, brick walls… so anywhere I can get my hands on”.
“What I love about doing this, as a painter, a muralist, being able to have the opportunity to take something that I drew on a 4 inch by 11 inch piece of paper, to get to put it on a 10 foot by 35 foot wall is just amazing. So many people have come and gotten a corndog and a slushie just to say, “Hi”, or “Oh my gosh, I just love this because it’s so much better use of a wall to put a mural on it”. It’s local art”.
The proud artist then proceeds to showcase her Abbi Clark Arts t-shirt. She hopes to finish the mural in the next month, before the return of the upcoming fall semester.
Article by OZ Museum