Where the wild things are ... artists

Spray-painted mural attracts attention

dmenconi@newsobserver.comOctober 16, 2011 

  • "WHERE THE WILD STYLES ARE" is on the back wall of No Regrets Tattoo, 3999 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh, on the side facing Beryl Road across the street from the post office.

    Sean Kernick paints at The Union, 327 W. Davie St., Raleigh, during First Friday each month.

If you saw it from out front, you probably wouldn't give No Regrets Tattoo on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh a second look. Go around to the back, however, and you'll find one of the coolest new pieces of art in town.

Running parallel to the train tracks along Beryl Road, No Regrets' back wall has an intricate and brightly colored mural starring the protagonist Max and one of the monsters from Maurice Sendak's classic 1963 children's book "Where the Wild Things Are." Except the mural has an alternative title, "WHERE THE WILD STYLES ARE" - and young Max is wielding a couple of cans of spray paint, fittingly enough.

"I've got two little girls I read to every night, and I've not done anything before with them in mind," said Sean Kernick, one of three artists who designed and painted the mural. "So I went looking on their bookshelf for inspiration and decided on this concept."

Kernick's daughters get a shout-out in the finished mural: "For my Nooch & Birdy."

No Regrets' management gave blessings to the project, which Kernick did with Josh Bennett and another artist known only as Zone. The artists did the mural in a single Sunday last month, starting at 8 in the morning.

For primer, they applied a coat of red paint with brushes. But the rest was all done with spray paint, somewhere between 30 and 40 cans. It was all freehand, too, without stencils of any sort (which would be "cheating," Bennett said).

Kernick painted the "Wild Things" characters in the middle. The other two artists did patterns of lettering on either side, all of it rendered with impressive attention to detail.

"It's all about can control, and these two are the best," Kernick said of his artist partners. "Their letters are super-clean and precise. The characters I did are a little looser, but the line work on their letters is so sharp."

A 34-year-old designer at The Futures Company in Chapel Hill, Kernick maintains an active artistic career. Much of his work turns up on his blog ( 24flinching.com), and he paints live at The Union in downtown Raleigh every First Friday.

"The reaction to this has been incredibly positive," Kernick said of the "Wild Things" mural.

"We'd just been thinking about it as a good day's work, but other people's reactions made us think it's maybe more than that. We're looking for more big walls to paint, too. It's hard to find places that will allow this because there's a stigma."

Menconi: 919-829-4759 or blogs.newsobserver.com/beat

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