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RED-LETTER DAY: For mural artist, picture is worth 1,000 words

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Did you notice the paragraph of red, large capital letters adorning the side of the State Farm Insurance building in downtown Lockhart?
Mural artist Aaron Darling assured Lockhart residents on Tuesday that his crimson inscription was neither graffiti nor the finished product. It’s just part of the process for the Austin-based artist, whose broad-brush strokes will eventually be obscured by a painting that will include a large Longhorn and the Caldwell County Courthouse that he says will tell the story of the Barbecue Capital of Texas.
“I decided to write a letter to the city explaining to them what I’m doing so that no one would write a letter to the city saying some guy is writing graffiti on the wall,” Darling explained.
The mural was commissioned by the Leadership Lockhart class offered by the Lockhart Chamber of Commerce, which, as part of its graduation assignment, had to raise money to complete a community project.
The class chose a mural, Chamber Board President B.J. Westmoreland said, and hired Darling to do the work. He said necessary permission from City of Lockhart staff had been obtained.
The red letters that began the project were a surprise, though, Westmoreland admitted.
“I did not expect it to start off with so much gusto, so to speak,” Westmoreland said. “I do think that when he’s done, if it looks like the rendering, people will be pleased with it. But we’re not quite there yet.
“I will say that Rebecca Pulliam is an outstanding property owner who has handled this with so much grace.”
A paragraph of words is how Darling constructs the grid that structures how is mural will unfold. He’s already drawn a smaller rendering, and now, using a boom lift, he will attempt to replicate it on the exterior upper story wall of a downtown building.
He simply prefers lettering to squares, circles or squiggles, he said, noting that he employed that strategy on his earlier murals, which he says have adorned restaurants, bars, and churches in multiple states.
He says he hasn’t kept count of how many paintings he’s done, but he begins each of them the same way.
“This is my highest one so far,” Darling said.
Darling is a registered nurse by trade, but he left the profession to turn to his art full time in January 2020, he said.
The installation should be complete in four or five days, he said.

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