This interview was originally printed in the February 2010 edition of The Potrero View.
It isn’t easy to make a living as an artist. Yet, long-time Potrero Hill residents Les Seymour and Brenda Cole Seymour have found the ideal niche for doing exactly what they love—making a living by making art. As the owners of Mural Arts studio on Missouri Street, this talented team has been designing and creating magnificent murals for more than 20 years. I asked them a few questions about their work.
GR: What made you decide to create murals?
Les: It’s a challenge—and a lot of fun—to customize art for specific sites, whether it’s inside or outdoors. And it’s a thrill to create art on such a large scale.
GR: What’s the biggest mural you’ve ever made?
Brenda: That would be a 12,000-square-foot mural with a rainforest theme for the Lost City Resort in Bophuthatswana, Africa.
GR: Out of the hundreds of murals you’ve created, do you have a favorite?
Les: I’d say the trompe l’oeil mural for Hotel Villa Florence in San Francisco. This mural blends many of our favorite classical painting techniques, and it fits perfectly with the interior architecture.
Brenda: My favorite job was designing and painting a series of 15 murals for the Monterey Plaza Hotel on Cannery Row. The murals depict Palladian Villas in Italy, which meant I absolutely had to spend some time doing research in Northern Italy—at least that’s what I told Les.
GR: I learned recently that your art was featured in a movie. True?
Brenda: Yes. Our work appears in “The Hangover”. The movie was filmed at the Caesars Palace Hotel in Las Vegas. We made a large mosaic mural, four painted tapestries, and several ceiling murals throughout the lobby. It was great to see our art on the big screen.
GR: If you could paint a mural on any building in San Francisco, what would it be?
Brenda: I’ve always thought the back of the Orpheum Theater would be a dynamic location for a mural. I’d lean towards a historical theme, since the mural would face the Civic Center.
Les: I would choose the blank side of the Hobart Building on Market Street. I envision a 1,500-square-foot “reflective mural”, which would be a floating, slightly distorted reflective surface depicting the adjacent skyscrapers, rooftop garden, and sky. The concept is a unique and modern approach to mural painting.
GR: What are you working on now?
Les: We’re making two Italian glass tile mosaic murals for Disney, a portrait for a restaurant in Salt Lake City, and a custom painted tapestry for a private residence in Potrero Hill.
To learn more about Mural Arts: www.muralarts.com. Greg Roensch is a freelance writer and Potrero Hill resident.