UNION CITY, Ohio — Pamela Bliss of Indianapolis, Indiana, has been hired by the Preservation Society of Union City, Indiana-Ohio, to create a mural on a building at 211 E. Elm St., in Union City, Ohio, which was formerly home of the Wright filling station now owned by Carl Rismiller.
The mural will reflect the history of the Lambert automobile.
“She will have the image of his [Lambert’s] first invention with a car coming out of a covered bridge,” said Ted Leahey of the Preservation Society. “What’s intriguing is that there will be an image of a horse startled by a car. There will also be the image of the old Lambert factory and its history.”
“Horses were known to be afraid of cars, so I will be adding that to the mural,” added Bliss. “The mural will show the building where the car was mass produced. This was the street [Elm] where they that did test driving for the car. I try to make my public art relevant to the area.”
Betty Grimes, a local resident whose idea it was to have the Lambert auto in the mural, said he only made two or three of those vehicles in Ohio City and they were not successful.
“It was a prelude to the Union automobiles he built here” Grimes said. “His father and brother had a business here on South Division, and that’s when he took over and started building the Union cars, which were successful. They sold a lot of them.”
Bliss said some of the wording on the mural will read: “John Lambert the father of the first friction-driven gasoline engine automobile. 1891.”
“I’m working on the building now,” she said. “Everything here is free-hand. Today is a perfect painting day.”
Bliss said that she started the project less than a week ago.
“When I get it done, depends on the weather,” she said. “A lot of detail needs to be put in it. My style is a lot of detail; that’s where the time comes in.”
To get up there, she has to climbs up and works on scaffolding, which was donated for this project from a local bricklayer.
“It’s more difficult to work on scaffolding,” she said. “I have to take up a lot of different things….a mixing cup, water, brushes. It’s a physical thing, because I am up and down it to check out my painting [from ground level].”
Bliss admitted to being leery of heights.
“I’m somewhat scared,” she said. “I focus on my picture; I forget about the height. I go into a zone up there. I sing to myself….Patsy Cline, Jewel, Nat King Cole. I have no battery-operated radio.”
She said she is staying in an apartment, which is being provided through the Preservation Society for a couple of weeks while working here.
Bliss said she went to college with Vicki Vardaman, director of the local Art Depot.
“We went to Indiana University East, and she kept track of my art work,” the muralist said.
Bliss said she has been interested in art since the age of 2, according to her mother.
“My teacher in high school told me I couldn’t paint and I didn’t for years,” Bliss said. “I could draw. I started painting when I was 30. I’ve done over 50 murals; some indoor ones, too. “
Bliss just came from back from Poland.
“I got back from Europe,” she said. “I was there for my forte in portraiture. I was invited to paint for a movie about Vincent VanGogh called ‘Loving Vincent.’ One hundred artists were invited. Most were Polish, but there were 35 of us international artists. We hand-painted the whole movie.”
She encourages people to look for “Loving Vincent” film either at the Cannes or Sundance film festivals.
“It’s the first full-feature animated film; it’s significant because of that,” Bliss said. “On the film, I created over 150 frames. It takes 12 frames to make one second of film.”
She has done all of the murals in Richmond, Fountain City and Cambridge City in Indiana, and created the mural for retired Indiana Pacers inside the fieldhouse for Bankers Life.
She has done two of the Super Bowl murals in Indianapolis in a project set up to beautify the city. One of the popular ones, she said, was that of author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. It was 38 feet tall, she said.
Which is her most favorite mural?
“That’s a tough one,” Bliss replied, “but it’s a 30-foot tall Abraham Lincoln in Cambridge City [Indiana]. I also enjoyed doing jazz musicians of Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis. They are 19 feet tall and 85 feet long, in black and white. I enjoyed doing that because I captured a lot of details in their faces.I have a soft spot for jazz. There are 10 jazz figures in that mural. The first one I put in there was of Wes Montgomery, a jazz guitarist.”
Weather has played a major role in her work.
“On the Super Bowl job, it needed to be done before February,” she recalled. “I painted until Jan. 9. My fingers were freezing. It was unseasonably warm. With that, came the wind, almost tornadic. It carried my scaffolding away, but I wasn’t on it at the time.”
Bliss said she was familiar with Union City before she came to work on her current project.
“One time I judged an art show at the Depot,” she said. “Union City reminds me a lot of Cambridge City for that hometown feel.”
While in Union City, Bliss’s daughter, Carly Dee, who lives in the Cambridge City/Hagerstown area, stops by and helps her mother out some.
“Carly, who is 35, helped me with my first one in 1998,” said Bliss, who also does some canvas work but predominantly murals. “She has also done a few murals of her own.”
Single, Bliss also has a son, who has helped her a little bit but has never gravitated toward painting.
Those interested in seeing Bliss’s art work can go to www.facebook.com/pamelablissart or she can be contacted at 317-696-7349.
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