This wall looked great as it has just been repainted, not by Wyland though. The person that did the work did a great job and added some personal touches such as pelicans in the middle of the wall. This was the largest wall we have seen on this trip and was a great way to finish our adventure.
While in Virginia Beach it was time to make a decision about whether we would continue South, into the aftermath of hurricane Florence, or just call it a successful trip and stay in Virginia Beach until the weekend and just fly home from Norfolk. The weather reports from coastal North Carolina still sounded grim with the water levels still increasing. On the other hand, if we did not go now, it was unclear when we would ever be back to see the walls in Wilmington and Myrtle Beach. Given that, and the fact that Google Maps told us we could get to the walls we headed off to Wilmington.
The drive there turned out to be quite an adventure. With several of the major freeways closed, we got to tour some fairly remote areas of North Carolina. There were areas of significant flooding along the way and even some road closures that Google did not know about causing us to have to wing it some. When we got into Wilmington it was pretty shut down. There was debris everywhere and even the few things that were open seems to have issues, such as no working elevators in the hotel with the wall. The Doubletree next door was completely closed due to water damage. We did get there in daylight though and were able to see “Coastal Dolphins”.
One interesting thing Cindy noticed was that the wall is not signed. We’re not sure if that is because someone painted over the signature or repainted the wall. Given the fading, it does not look like it has been repainted so we’re not sure what the real explanation is.
The wall in Norfolk is in the harbor area. There is a great walkway there that offers a view of the large shipyards across the water and along a World War 2 battleship. The area was pretty quiet with only a few people around. Since it was the convention center area my guess the crowds are based on what is going on at there. “Humpbacks off the Virginia Coast” was easy to find and looks good although part of it is obscured by the construction of the adjacent building.
Dominion Towers 999 Waterside Drive Norfolk, Virginia 280 Feet Long x 80 Feet High Dedicated August 23rd, 1993
Excerpt from @wylandwalls on Instagram
Wyland was battling the flu when he pulled into Norfolk, Virginia. When he gazed up at the wall selected for the mural he was unsure about whether he would have the stamina to complete the project in just six days. It was one of the largest walls on the tour, 260 feet long and 60 feet high. However, when Norfolk Mayor Mason Andrews declared the first day “Wyland Day” at the opening press conference, the fatigued artist grabbed a second wind and worked from dusk to dawn until the mural was finished.
“Tens of thousands of people came down to watch, and the police had to put up barriers to control the crowds,” Wyland recalls. “I was sore all over from the flu, but there was something about thousands of people watching every move I made while I worked. It was very motivational – to the point where aches and pains no longer mattered.” The entire city embraced the Whaling Wall and, with the help of many dedicated local volunteers, it was finished at sunset on the sixth and final day.
The mural depicts humpbacks, dolphins and tuna and is visible both from the Elizabeth River and Waterside Drive. Wyland dedicated the Whaling Wall to Jacques Cousteau, who had inspired him as a youth to focus on whales and marine life as his art subjects. While in Norfolk, Wyland visited the Cousteau Society in Chesapeake, Virginia, where he was greeted by a very friendly staff. He left one of his bronze sculptures as a gift to Mr. Cousteau, who wrote him a personal “thank you” letter.
It rained quite hard on the way from Baltimore to Washington but by the time we got to the Zoo it had reduced to a drizzle. It was not great Zoo weather and, while not yet lunchtime, the animals has no interest in being out or active. As we usually have a good time at zoos we were a little disappointed but we did get to see “Dolphins-Small Tooth Whales” on the wall of the visitor center. As with most of the walls on this trip, it is showing its age but in better shape than some. As the smallest of the Wyland walls, it posed no challenge to getting a photo.
The National Zoological Park 3000 Connecticut Ave. N.W. Washington, D.C. 30 Feet Long x 15 Feet High Dedicated August 9th, 1993
Except from @wylandfoundation on Instagram
While the mural at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C., is the smallest Whaling Wall Wyland has painted, the artist considers it one of his most important. Painted on a wall right at the front entrance to the zoo, it is estimated that five million people walk by it every year! Because of its size, only 30 feet long by 15 feet high, Wyland decided to paint the smallest of whales – dolphins, which are actually small-tooth whales. “When I told Dr. Roger Payne, the world’s leading whale researcher, that I was going to paint dolphins at the zoo, he recommended I paint the harbor porpoise, the smallest of the dolphins,” Wyland says. I thought it was a great idea and painted one in his honor. He flew over from London to dedicate the mural, which was a great honor for me.”
Several political dignitaries attended the dedication ceremony as well, and the triangle-shaped mural drew accolades from the WWF and National Wildlife Federation, among others. While in Washington, Wyland also presented the Very Special Arts gallery with an original painting to be made into a print to help raise funds for artists with disabilities.
Unlike the West coast, on the East coast, you cat get to three states between lunch and dinner. After our success in Wilmington, we headed off to Baltimore to see “Extinct Atlantic Gray Whales” which while not an original Wyland, it has been repainted by someone else, it still retains most of the Wyland charm. It is in a great location across from the football stadium and I’m sure it is seen by a huge number of people as all Wyland wall should.
After failed attempts to see a wall in Philadelphia and Wildwood, we finally got to see “Delaware Marine Mammals” in Wilmington. The wall is aged but the only original Wyland wall anywhere around this area. Right as we were finishing our picture the sky opened up and it started pouring rain, so we did not have an opportunity to spend as much time there as we would have liked.
The Architects Studio, Inc. 117 Market St. Wilmington, Delaware 90 Feet Long x 60 Feet High Dedicated August 2nd, 1993
Except from @wylandfoundation on Instagram
The front of Architects Studio on Market Street in Wilmington, Delaware, presented a special challenge for Wyland because the two walls were dissected by a wide external stairwell.
“This mural is essentially a diptych with two fairly vertical surfaces,” he explains. “To achieve more continuity on either side of the stairwell, I decided the mural would work better if both sides were above-the-surface paintings. So I painted a humpback in full breach out of the water on the left side, and a school of bottlenose dolphins skipping on the ocean’s surface on the right side.”
Situated near Wilmington’s Christina waterfront, which in the 1860’s to 1880’s, was the launch for whaling ships going up the river and through a bay to reach the Atlantic. “Painting a Whaling Wall in a non-coastal city always gives me an opportunity to reach people who would not normally be thinking about whales,” Wyland says. My intention is to expose as many people as I can to these animals so they’ll join, in whatever way they can, the movement to save our oceans and marine life”
After the disappointment of the destruction of “East Coast Humpbacks” in Philadelphia, we were doubly disappointed to find that “Humpbacks off the New Jersey Coast” was in the process of being painted over by someone. Especially as Wyland has been rejuvenating so many walls, to have someone else just painting over one of his walls was a little depressing. Given the current state of the repainting, we probably only missed seeing it by a month or two. It reminds us that art is not forever. Don’t take it for granted and appreciate it each day you have it.
New York is a festive place to visit at Christmas. While the purpose of the visit was to take in the holiday decorations we could not pass up the opportunity to see “Inner City Whales” in the tunnel of the bus station.
Being located in a place dedicated to bus traffic has taken its toll on this mural, as has various construction projects, and we were glad to see it before it deteriorated further. Due to construction equipment we could only see about two-thirds of it but what we could see what worth seeing.
Port Authority Bus Terminal
41 Street Underpass
New York, New York
460 Feet Long x 22 Feet High
Dedicated July 5th, 1993
Except from @wylandfoundation on Instagram
Selecting and gaining approval to paint a Whaling Wall in New York City presented a new set of challenges that could only be found in The Big Apple. Wyland had initially selected the “perfect” wall at the Jacob Javitts Convention Center, but the site fell through when the World Trade Center was suddenly bombed by terrorists. The Port Authority of New York, whose vent tower was located at the convention center, then decided the Whaling Wall might become targeted by the terrorists.
However, they helped Wyland’s team find another wall at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on the 41st Street underpass. “This area was one of the worst in the city,” Wyland says. “Crime, drugs, winos, prostitution – it was horrible. I felt the real challenge was going to be how I could add something positive to such a dreary environment.”
With his crew watching his back, the artist quickly painted humpback whales swimming along the low 450-foot-long tunnel between the two terminals. The mural was showcased by all three major networks, including The Today Show and Good Morning America.
“The attention this mural drew was tremendous,” Wyland acknowledges. “A lot of people will see it every day. The only thing I would change about it, though, would be the lighting. I hope the Port Authority will one day replace the dim, yellow lights in that tunnel with lights that’ll really enhance this beautiful mural in the inner city.”
All of our trips tracking down Walls have been fun and adventurous, but none as much as going to see “Marine Life off the Gulf”.
We had no travel plans to see walls this year but a few weeks ago while at a Wyland show in Carmel we learned that he would be refreshing the wall in Destin, FL. It would be hard to fit the trip into our work schedule but how could we pass up an opportunity to see Wyland actually paint a wall!
The weather forecast for the week was pretty grim. On Monday we got to see the wall but by 11am it started raining and we proceeded to get 12.6″ of rain that day. That eliminated any chance to see him paint on Monday. Without anything else planned, we decided to visit the Wyland Gallery in Destin and ended up running into Wyland there. As it was pouring down rain we were the only customers there and got to talk to him. We got some insight into the walls and his Giant Sculpture project. It was pretty fun to get some one-on-one time with him.
Tuesday the forecast was better and we knew there was a good chance we would get to see him paint. The painters that were doing the background had almost completed their work and the was was ready for him to start. As he was doing his first walk-around of the wall we were able to get our wall picture with him.
Everything just got better from there. We got to see the master at work. The building is absolutely huge and it’s quite a coordination task to paint from a moving cherry-picker. Watching him paint from the ground was great but then he took us up on the cherry picker to watch him paint from up high which was fantastic. We lunch with him and got to hear some great stories of his travels. Over the course of the day we heard so many stories and just had the greatest time.
On Wednesday a few classes of school kids, middle school and elementary, came by to hear Wyland talk and to paint with it. It was very special to see him interact with the kids. He was so energized by them and buzzing around while the kids were all painting.
A very special trip that we will never forget.
Mid-Bay Marina 688 Regatta Blvd. Destin, Florida Marine Life Mural: 1,480 feet Long x 60 Feet High Rooftop US Flag Mural: 290 Feet Long x 152 Feet High Dedicated Oct. 17, 2001
Except from @wylandfoundation on Instagram
The epic nine-day five and one quarter acre project at the Mid-Bay Marina in Destin captured the imagination of thousands of people along the Gulf Coast. When the second phase of the mural was completed it was a much larger mural than the world record mural Wyland had painted a few years earlier in Long Beach, California. Among the images Wyland painted on the Destin wall was a pod of nine pilot whales to honor a pod of whales that beached themselves in East Escambia County on October 11, 2001. The depiction of the pilot whales wasn’t the only example of commemoration that Wyland showed. In the wake of the tragic events of September 11, he announced that his team would paint one of the world’s largest flags on the 2-acre roof of the marina. The flag is 44,080-square feet!
Between Wyland’s marine life mural on the sides of the marina and the flag on top, the entire project ranks among the world’s largest works of art found anywhere covering a total of 71,560 square feet and requiring at over 1,000 gallons of paint!
Over 10,000 community volunteers came together to help organize the massive painting event. They were joined by thousands more spectators, including families and school children from a 150-mile radius, who painted over 100 smaller murals.
When our adventure started back in 2010 our first wall was close to home at Pier 39 in San Francisco. There were 2 walls in that area but due to construction around the aquarium it appeared that “Grays off the San Francisco Coast”, wall number 61 was extinct which was very disappointing.
Of course, some days surprise you. While on a trip to San Francisco with my Mom, we’re walking around Pier 39 and walk right by what is clearly a Wyland Wall in really good shape. We can’t tell if the was was extinct and Wyland re-painted it or whether it was just covered up by the construction but it’s in great shape and we were glad to add it to our list.
Specs of wall 61 are:
Beach & Embarcadero, Streets
San Francisco, California
68 Feet Long x 20 Feet High
Dedicated September 5th, 1994
Excerpt from @WylandWalls on Instagram
The second wall at @pier39 was smaller than the first one, but it still moves us as much as the first. It’s next to the entrance to the pier so anyone who walks in can’t possibly miss it.
The actual design of the wall presented an interesting “angle” to this mural. It presented a challenge in that Wyland actually wrapped a gray whale around a slight bend in the middle of the wall. Because the mural was situated where the late afternoon sun hit the wall each day, Wyland used warm yellows and oranges for a beautiful sunset scene above the surface.
This was only the second time Wyland used sunset colors for a Whaling Wall. The first was in Seattle. When the light from the afternoon sun spreads across the mural, the painting comes alive in a very natural way. It’s as if the viewer and the whales are sharing the same sunset!