The art was unveiled Saturday after artist Thays Franca spent months outside Ormond Garage Brewing working on her largest work ever.
Local artist Thays Franca spent about 40 days meticulously creating a painting on a wall, 50-feet long and 11-feet high. Through the long days, it was words from passersby that kept her going.
She liked being there at 3:30 p.m. on her workdays, because that’s when Ormond Beach Elementary School down the street let out. Drawn to her oversize art project, the students were full of curiosity.
“We talked about hard work, creativity,” she said. “I was an art teacher and I always like to have a teachable moment.”
“There’s no better feeling than accomplishing something you knew would be a challenge.”
THAYS FRANCA, artist
Unveiled at the Feb. 1 Granada Grand Festival of Arts, her work is the first mural in the Ormond Beach Arts District mural program. Facing the west in the rear of the Ormond Garage Brewing building, 48 W. Granada Blvd., the mural was sponsored by Bill and Jan Jones, who own the building.
The mural was done from a photograph of a beach racing scene taken in 1904 at the Granada beach approach, fitting in with local history and the Ormond Garage. Provided by the Ormond Beach Historical Society, the photo has “50-mile race won in 40 minutes WKV Jr.” inscribed, which apparently refers to William K. Vanderbilt Jr., the winner of the race.
When Franca was painting, nearly everyone who happened by stopped to talk.
“I had such wonderful, warm encouragement from everyone who passed by,” she said. “I did not hear anything negative. It was overwhelming. The coolest comments from the kids. I’d hear ‘wow’ or ‘this is so cool.’ I knew they were being honest because kids don’t sugarcoat anything.”
It was the largest mural that Franca has ever completed, and much different than the colorful beach and tropical scenes she normally paints.
“I don’t paint black and white," Franca said. "I don’t do people. I paint from my imagination."
When she first saw the photo, she even considered turning down the project but then changed her mind.
“I knew I could do it. It was easier to accept the challenge than to watch another artist do it a few blocks from my studio,” she said, smiling. “It was a question of pride.”
After doing a small version to get approval by the Arts District and the city, she felt more confident.
Julia Truilo, executive director of Ormond MainStreet, said she is thrilled with the result. She said it’s impressive how she got the details and the overall feel of the original photo.
The mural also exceeded the expectations of Judith Stein, who heads up the mural task force for the Arts District.
“I watched it being done blow by blow,” Stein said. “It’s an incredible work of art.”
'A PERFECT CHOICE'
Though the weather was cold and dreary, a large crowd equipped with raincoats and umbrellas made sure they didn't miss the mural unveiling. Looking out at the faces of those who attended, Bill Jones said it made him feel proud of what was done at Ormond Garage.
“This is a grand old building," Jones said. "I’m dedicated to keeping grand old buildings like this around."
He also said he and his team have many more plans for Ormond Beach's downtown.
“We’re not knocking things down," Jones said. "We’re going to be building things up.”
Mayor Bill Partington also spoke at the unveiling, reiterating the importance of beach racing in the city's history.
“We love our history, and we’re constantly fighting to make sure we preserve Ormond Beach’s history," Partington said. "It’s so critical.”
At least two people traveled from out of town to see the mural. Orlando residents Bobbi Campbell and Gail Joiner came out to support Franca, who is part of their Women Making Waves group.
“I think it’s gorgeous," Campbell said. "I’ve been following on her Facebook and seeing her progress as she goes along and I think it’s beautiful."
Joiner is originally from a Texas town with many murals, and she said using them to make people aware of Ormond's history is important.
“It goes so well with the garage," Joiner said. "It’s a perfect choice.”
CHALLENGE AND REWARD
An outdoor mural presents challenges, most obvious being the weather, and it was a rainy December. It took her three months to get the mural done, dodging the raindrops.
Another challenge was the scope of the work, making it physically demanding. A muralist makes large brush strokes, quite different from doing a small painting.
“After three days, your arms ask, ‘Are we really going to do this again?’” she said.
As she finished a section, she would go ahead and paint a second coat the next day, because she didn’t want people to see it with just one coat.
“It took me six to eight hours just to get where I was the day before,” she said.
Franca worked with the Arts District committee for the past several years to get the mural project started. She said people travel from all over the see the murals of a city.
Now, she can drive by and see her own work.
“There’s no better feeling than accomplishing something you knew would be a challenge,” she said.
Stein said there are there are three more mural projects in the pipeline. She said if a business is interested, they can contact the Arts District committee and they will help them each step of the way. Find Ormond Beach Arts District on Facebook.
To purchase a print of the mural, visit thaysgallery.com. Email [email protected].
Jarleene Almenas contributed to this story.