Every mural I have ever done has a big story behind it, which is vastly different from the situation an artist ponders in creating a work of art in the studio. Here are just a few of the murals I have created in the last 50 years... (perhaps 200 or so but I lost count a long time ago). Over the next few weeks I will go back to a selection of a few murals and tell how they came about ...many of them now, are gone forever...also, I apologies about the very bad photo images presented within this page, but at some point I hope to find the original high detail slides...

MADRID, NEW MEXICO

Mural at the Mine Shaft Tavern, Madrid New Mexico 2012   8 x 8 FEET-ACRYLIC ON PLYWOOD -

All the people, and all of the dogs are real locals, I have known for years, and as time has passed many of them are still living in Madrid, but sadly just as many are no longer in our world, dogs or people. This is a very bad  image as much can not be seen and the color has gone too dark, so soon It will be replaced...But most interesting is that any locals complained when I put a new-comer as the central feature, that being John Wayne on the Horse who rode it with the pack horse and two dogs all the way from Michigan to Madrid between late October and December...not the best of times to make a long land pilgrimage.

CERRILLOS, NEW MEXICO

 

THE BIRD SHAMAN, 9 X 9 FEET, ACRYLIC, MISOULA, MONTANA 2014

This mural was originally just a large canvass I did a collaborative painting as part of THE WORLD COMMUNITY ARTS DAY, February 17, 2013. Several adults and quite a few children painted what ever they wanted over a two day period. It was okay, but nothing brilliant I wanted to keep. It seemed a waste of such a nice canvass, so I left a few weird objects from that collective piece, and began to improvise something else all together. Eventually all the original scribbling and splashes disappeared and  it became what you see here. A niece, who I had never met saw the painting on the internet and fell in love with it. She bought it for a good bit of money and I rolled it up and shipped it off to Montana.

 

 

PORTRAIT OF THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS. 9 FEET 6 INCHES x 2 FEET,

 MISOULA , MONTANA, 2014

OIL, PAINTED ON A HANSEN CARDIFF LONG SURFBOARD

The same niece commissioned me to paint a mural that featured Hawaii on a long surfing board. She had vacationed on one of the islands and wanted something to remind her of the wonderful time she had, as well as having a portrait of her mother and father set in a paradise.  They are not possible to see here but are placed on the right side near the flowers and the traditional hut.I am still using old photos so will find better images soon.

 

 FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD AND TIMES

TELLURIDE, COLORADO

                                     

 

MURALS FOR THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CHURCH, TELLURIDE, COLORADO, 1972

1. Christ walks the water 2, John baptizes Christ 3. Christ in the wilderness 4. Sermon on the Mount,   All oil on plywood 4 X 7 ft  All of these were taken out of the Southern Baptist Church and returned to me in 1995 by Bob Garber. In 2000 I took all four panels to Jim Ray in Seattle, Washington with the idea he would purchase them. He backed out after I left them at is mansion in Capitol Hill. Jim died later and the murals all disappeared. If anyone knows their whereabouts, I would appreciate the information. contact kjwolverton@gmail.com

 

 THE OPERA HOUSE THEATER, TELLURIDE, COLORADO, 1971 17 X 25 feet, water tempera on canvass.

Originally a fire screen painted by a travelling Italian artist around 1900, when Telluride was one of the richest gold mine towns in the west, the painting on canvass subsequently was rolled up and placed in the basement when the gold rush was over and the theater closed. In 1970 the theater was bought by Bill Pence with the intention of turning it into a movie house. When the canvass was brought up from the basement, it was discovered to have been severely damaged by water, and the curtains and much of the center were nearly destroyed. Bill hired me  to restore the painting. This the only photo I have of it as I was working on it, so you can see much of the damage, but not  as it was finished to its former beauty.

 

CRESTED BUTTE, COLORADO

Princes Theater, Crested Butte, Colorado. 17 by 25 feet, acrylic on canvass

It is now is located in the Crested Butte Historical Museum,   After completing the restoration to the mural in the Opera house, Bill Pence commissioned me to do a fire screen for his new theater in Crested Butte. I rented a room in the old Telluride high school and for three months painted there. A young woman who later would become the editor of the Telluride Times, Barbara, volunteered to be the model in the center of the painting. When it was completed the painting was transferred to Crested Butte and stayed in the PRINCESS movie house  for several years before the it finally closed sometime around 2000. The mural was stored away until it was discovered by The Crested Butte Historical Museum and exhibited there in 2018. But in 1973, The money I made from the mural I bought a ticket on a Greek freighter and went to Scotland with the idea of returning to America in 3 to 6 months. Bill Pence said another theater was being located in Santa Fe and I would create murals there when I returned. But after three months, Bill sent me a telegram saying the Santa Fe project had been canceled and he wished me good luck. I needed a good luck because I was totally broke. That led me to knocking on doors in Edinburgh trying to get enough money to buy a ticket back to America. I was invited in 2019 to tell the history of this mural at the museum.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

DETAIL OF BANQUET TABLE

HENDERSON’s, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1974. Oil on plywood 8 x 4 feet.

 When the project I was to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico was canceled, I was absolutely broke and had to find a new commission as quick as possible. Luckily I came across Henderson’s Salad Table (a vegetarian restaurant) and talked to the manager who was one of the sons, Nick Henderson. He was delighted with the portfolio I showed him and commissioned me to paint a mural for the cellar eating area. I was to be paid the grand sum of 35 British pounds (around $100 in 1974) and could eat all of my meals while I did mural. The mural took around four months to complete. During that time, anyone I met at Henderson’s, I asked them to pose for the mural. I lost count, but there are over fifty people I believe in the mural all of them were either customers or friends that I encountered for the first few months I was in Scotland. The irony is, I continued to eat at Henderson’s salad table along with friends and my family for free for the next 10 years I lived in Scotland. So the little amount I was originally paid obviously wound up being very considerable by 1984 when I left Scotland. Early in  2020, the restaurant closed down during the Covid 19 crisis and planned on going out of business. But fortunately one of the family members decided in 2021 to take the reins and reopened the restaurant and reinstalled the mural that had been there for over 45 years.

PILTON, CRAIGMILLAR, SCOTLAND

   

       

 

 

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE -THEATRE WORKSHOP EDINBURGH

While I was working at Henderson’s restaurant doing the mural I met Neil Cameron who was the director of Theater Workshop Edinburgh. Neil initially invited me to join in a troubadour group to tour a small roadshow through nine villages with a donkey and cart. Subsequently he asked me if I would like to join Theater Workshop Edinburgh as the artist in residence knowing that I was a muralist. With the help of Stella Elsdale and Neil Cameron I gained a grant from the Leverhulme Trust in London to work in ghettos of Edinburgh creating murals, sculptures or any creative activity I chose. So for the next three years I worked with a ragtag collection of children created many murals and several large sculptures, not only in Pilton, but Craigmillar and several smaller inner-city communities. In the course of three years, I directed around 30 collaborative murals and several monumental land sculptures with children and youth.

ISFAHAN, IRAN

    

 

Tour to Isfahan, Iran 1977, mural 6 X 200 feet, acrylic on brick.

I stayed with Theatre workshop for three years. In 1976, we were invited to Hamburg Germany to be part of the World’s Children’s Theater Festival. It was there I met the directors of cultural art projects from several countries who invited me to visit them whenever I could. I took advantage of the invitation and arranged to go to Turkey and Iran with plans to go on to Afghanistan, then Japan and return to America. The plan was altered when I met Chrissie Orr. We got as far as Iran when we discovered she was five months pregnant. But before we returned we did a very large mural that was sponsored by the Shaw and Empress of Iran in the city of Isfahan. We then returned to Europe, being invited to do a theater project in Hamburg, Germany. The Shaw of Iran was overthrown only a month after we had left the country. Although we felt something turbulent was going on, we had a wonderful time working with local people and the children they gladly brought to the mural project. It was created over a three-week period when the temperature was nearly 100°F every day. Because in the Islamic culture human images are forbidden in the artworks, I created a purely geometric art form with the organized colors where children could pay anything they wanted to within certain areas, for example, any tone of yellow and yellow areas, or any tone of red or blue or green and corresponding color areas. There was only one precarious moment, when one of the fundamentalists Islamic directors noticed that one of the children’s had painted a six pointed star i.e., the star of David, yes Jewish.

 

ISLE OF ARRAN, SCOTLAND

 

HAMBURG, GERMANY

 

The Arran Community Arts Project – Isle of Arran, Scotland, 1977 to 1982.

I had not actually planned on staying in Scotland, but when I met Chrissie Orr, and she subsequently became pregnant with my baby, ones course in life is changed. So the three month painting holiday I had planned on doing originally, became 10 years, and a wife, and a child, and a mortgage, and the project I created on the Isle of Arran in Western Scotland. Chrissie Orr was not only my wife, but my partner and co-director of the project. We ran it for five years and created murals, sculptures, and theater projects with local youth and children. We were funded by the Lord Leverhulme Trust Fund, the Scottish Arts Council, but mostly from projects that we were commission to do in Germany. The Germans paid us more for a three week project, than the grants we received for a whole year from the Scottish Arts Council, or the Leverhulme trust. So for those five years of the Arran project, every summer we went to Germany to do murals, large sculpture installations that involve thousands of people, and theater projects where we brought a team of actors and musicians with us to perform in the streets and arts festivals.

AJACCIO, CORSICA, FRANCE

 

Three years on the island of Corsica France, 1983 to 1986.

After 10 years in Scotland, I wanted to experience another kind of European world, especially after I had gone to the Isle of Corsica on holiday. I fell in love with the island and subsequently met a theater director in Edinburgh who was Corsican, and was planning on returning to his home land. We discussed working together on projects over the course of the next few months in Scotland, while I turned a 3 ton delivery van, into a suitable RV and convinced my Scottish wife Chrissie Orr, that we somehow could make a living in Corsica even though at this point we had a four-year-old daughter who just started school. Chrissie was not happy about the idea, but when we went ahead and did it.

So for the next three years, with the wonderful help of our Corsican friends, namely Francis Aqui, Colette Fournier, John and Rollie Lucarotti, Mark Rhodes and quite a few others, we somehow managed to stay alive. It was an invigorating experience, that went from feast to famine, FEAST TO FAMINE, several times. The first project we did, was with the help of Francis Aqui who introduced us to Colette Fournier. Colette worked with us over several weeks to create a large mural sculpture in the city Plaza of Ajaccio, just completed a few days before Christmas, 1983. Because of this very large public mural, somehow we established a toe hold in Corsica, and more work slowly followed.

 

AMERICAN GRAFFITI, A CORSICAN BOUTIQUE

A-American Graffiti

American Graffiti mural, in the background on far left is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. On the far right is a view of The Statue of Liberty and New York City. Many of the people in the scene were people I met in Corsica including the owner of the boutique. It took nearly 5 months because of the detail and I was paid around $1,000.00 (yes that is right but it was my calling card for being a new artist in town) and quite and a few commissions came because of it, including Domaine Perldi, which is the next mural.

DOMAINE PERALDI VINOBLE, METZOVIA, CORSICA

 Domaine 1 

Domaine Peraldi Mural, the making: I arrived in Corsica with my wife and 4 year old daughter, in a 3 ton Bedford delivery truck I had spent 6 months converting into a RV. Count De Poix who owned Domaine Peraldi Winery, had seen the murals I had created and commissioned me to do a 25 X 100 foot mural on his processing building, We used the truck as our portable scaffolding, since Count De Poix gave us a wonderful apartment in his summer home on the beach to live in for the next two years as part of our commission.

 

   

 The Complete mural: When  had completed the initial design for Count De Poix to approve, he asked, But why have you broken up the mural into 4 parts? I would prefer just one big picture!"  Early on I had asked if a drain pipe could be removed that ran down 2/3s of the wall on the right side, and he said, no that it was absolutely necessary for the process of the vats. So when he asked me why 4 parts, I said, "Count De Poix, imagine a drain pipe going down through DeVinci's Last Supper."

He laughed and said, "Of course, now I see. Your design is perfect!" The theme is 4 seasons of the vineyard; left panel, spring; right panel, summer; center panel, autumn; back ground, winter. I was told that a full size bill board of the mural was in the main hall of Charles DeGaulle airport in Paris. I always meant to tell Count DePoix, I did not sell him the copyright of the mural, but just another few bucks out the window.

The photo on the left is Chrissie Orr, our dog Rose and me in front of the bottom of the central oval that would illustrate the grape harvest. It gives you a good idea of the scale of the mural. When it was completed we were the proverbial BIG FISH in a small pond, for a while...

ECHO MUSIC AND ONE LITTLE COMMISION AFTER THE OTHER

 

ECHO MUSIC STORE- 8 X 8 FEET ACRYLIC ON PLYWOOD- AJACCIO, CORSICA

After we completed the Domaine Peraldi mural, we had enough money to coast for a few months including Chrissie and my daughter Rowan going back to Scotland for vacation. But after that, commissions were far and few between, and several times there was nothing in the refrigerator at all to eat. If it had not been for our good friends such as John and Rollie Lucarotti, Colette Fournier, Pierre and Mary Jane, I think we would become very skinny. Also after two years, suddenly our patron Count DePoix, one day out of the blue, told us we had a week to stay in our apartment (we had been in for nearly 2 years) and then we must go. I am not sure what happened exactly, but I think we must’ve stepped into forbidden territory, when one of Chrissie’s old friends arrived and brought her black American boyfriend with her. Or perhaps, I had just lost my charm. Nothing was ever said, and we were in the act of selling everything we had, to buy plane tickets, to return to either Scotland, or if we had enough money, America.

At the very last moment Rollie Lucarotti, arrived and told us that a very famous Corsican artist, needed somebody to caretake his beautiful house on the river for a year. So that was it, our plan suddenly changed and we moved to a wonderful place on the Gravone River for the last year in Corsica. Charles Levier was the artist, who had made a fairly good living, doing one painting a day for the Hilton Hotel Corporation. If you have ever stayed in the Hilton Hotel anywhere in the world, you may have seen one of his original paintings on the wall. After one year, it seemed to be some kind of Corsican habit, Charles arrived, and told us we must leave his house within a week. It seems the gig was up, so we sold everything we had and made just enough money to buy two plane tickets to Scotland, where Chrissie and our daughter, and one plane ticket to Albuquerque, New Mexico for me.

JAMES BROWN IN CORSICA - A WANNA-BE WOODSTOCK MUSIC FESTIVAL

24 FEET DETAIL OF A 300 FOOT MURAL PAINETD IN THREE WEEKS

But I’m leaving out a very important last big episode we had in Corsica. It was a rock ‘n roll festival where Mr. James Brown was to be the highlight of the show. It was a four-day rock ‘n roll festival in a town called Guissonachia on the east side of the island that had been a World War II American Army Air Corps B-24 bomber airfield, that was where the main fight against the Germans in Africa was launched.  But 40 years later, Mr. James Brown was going to sing Living in America and Sex Machine.

Somehow we were talked into doing a 300 foot long mural, with the promise of earning nearly $3000 at the end of the concert. The weather changed everything, a huge rainstorm came the evening James Brown was to perform, and completely drowned the whole rock ‘n roll Festival. The 10,000 people they were expecting disappeared. Only 1000 people showed up the following evening, and the promoters didn’t even have enough money to pay James Brown.

We wound up working for three weeks getting only the food that they supplied us every day. I nearly caused a riot when I discovered we were not to be paid, and the promoters had some very large men drag me off out into a field and set me down until I cooled off. But I was irate. I went back grabbed Chrissie and my daughter, and put them in our beat up old car that the Lucarotti's had given us, and we started to go back to our river home.

We went about 3 miles up the mountainside, when suddenly the engine went boom and the car came to a dead stop. I called our good friend Mark Rhodes to help us. He arrived about three in the morning and took us back to our River house. It was the next day Charles Levier arrived and told us we must leave this property. But the very same day an old German friend, Wolfgang Penninghouse arrived and wanted to buy my converted delivery truck turned into an RV. He gave us $3000 and we managed to buy the tickets, Chrissie and Rowan to Scotland, me to America.

ALBUQUERQUI, NEW MEXICO

The money we received selling our RV to Wolfgang Penninghouse, was just enough to send Chrissie and Rowan back to Scotland and me with five huge trunks of belongings and our beautiful pedigreed English Cocker Spaniel, Rose,  back to America and our future home in Albuquerque New Mexico.

My niece Kandi and her husband Dave were generous to support me for the first few weeks in their lovely home near Sandia Crest.

In the daytime Kandi drove me around Albuquerque looking for a house to rent. I was just on the verge of asking Kandi to take me back to the airport so I could return to Scotland. I hated Albuquerque and everything I had seen. But just as I was about to say forget it, Kandi turned down a street near Bataan Park, and there was a beautiful little house amongst the trees for rent.

As it turned out there was Dwight Millar (who has remained the first and best friend in NM)  doing construction in the house, and he asked me if I wanted a job to help him finish the house. So with that good luck I managed to get a house for the first two or three months with the labor I contributed to fixing it up for me.

THE EL MADRID LOUNGE- ACRYLIC ON STUCCO- 3 PANELS                 

 

 

ELVIS WITH HIS MOTHER IN A PINK CADILLAC-12 X 15 FEET   LOUIE MADRID, OWNER, ESCORTED  ELVIS ON TOUR  1959

 

It wasn’t very long before I found the El Madrid Lounge down on 2nd Street, and convince the owners they needed a mural painted by me. The mural and me got on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal, and that was the start of me staying in New Mexico, painting murals all around the state, and getting the land that I now live on near Cerrillos New Mexico. I have lost count of the number of murals I have done in the last 34 years while I was in the state art program that linked me to schools. The following are just a few of the collaborative murals with up to 400 children, where they were instrumental in coming to the design as well is painting directly onto the walls.

                              EMERSON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL  ABQ, NM                    DOLORES GONZALES ELEMENTARY SCHOOL NEAR  ABQ ZOO NM

     FREEDOM HIGHSCHOOL ABQ, NM                                                                               BLOOLMFIELD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL BLOOMFIELD, NM     

     

 

      ZIA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL ABQ, NM  IN PROCESS               ZIA ELEMENTARY COMPLETED

 

 

 

                               OPENING OF ST, FRANCIS CATHOLIC CHURCH, ABQ, NM 1988 

 

ST FRANCIS CATHOLIC CHURCH 22 X 100 FEET ACRYLIC ON STUCCO. 250 LOCAL PORTRAITS OF ABQ DIVERSE COMMUNITY

 

 

    BARRELAS COMMUNITY CENTER, ABQ, NM 

 

      ST. FRANCIS HOSPITAL, SANTA FE, NM                     ALVORD  ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SANTA FE, NM 1995

 

 

                               SANTA FE HIGH SCHOOL, SANTA FE, NM  1997

 

 

             MOUNTAINAIR CATHOLIC CHURCH, MOUNTAINAIR, NM    1988              MOUNTAINAIR CATHOLIC CHURCH, MOUNTAINAIR, NM

   

 

                   ENTERIOR OF THE MOUNTAINAIR CATHOLIC CHURCH                                              DAUGHTER ROWAN AT 12 WITH CUT MOSAIC PIECES

 

Over the years I developed what I called "PLYWOOD MOSAIC" which is exactly as it sounds, a mosaic composition made from cut and shaped individual pieces of plywood.

 

                             DONA ANNA HEALTH CENTER, LOS CRUCES, NM 2002

 

 In 1999 I moved to Los Cruces, New Mexico, to begin a long term association with Irene Oliver Lewis, Artistic Director of  the Court Youth Center. Over the next three years I would do several murals working collaboratively with many of the youth who attended the center. The first big project we did was to do a "wrap around" plywood mosaic mural for the central waiting room of the Dona Anna Health Center. We worked for over 6 months to complete the whole project. It was installed by the Dona Anna County Maintenance Department.

OLD MESQUITE HISTORICAL PARK, LOS CRUCES, NM. 2005

 Again with Irene Oliver Lewis when she organized students to work with me for over a year. It was the last project I did with Irene Oliver Lewis who is one of my most dear friends and totally supportive patron time after time. We were to create a very large ceramic mural 7 x 80’ for the Mesquite Historical District. There were eight ceramic panels depicting the history of southern New Mexico, starting with his indigenous people and going through the development of the town of Los Cruces. Altogether over 40 youths worked with me using photographs and the memory of local people to create each scene depicting an era of Los Cruces.

 

 

If you got this far, thank you so much for taking this journey. Wow. I'm tired, how about you?