BY OLIVIA DORFMAN
While The Players Pub may be closed, a piece of it lives on. The mural that graced the back stage of Bloomington’s iconic music venue will be the centerpiece of a jazz-themed exhibit at the I Fell building during its June 7 First Friday @ the Fell, 415 W. 4th. St.
The painting’s story began in 2007 when artist Carol Miller met Greg Hill, then the owner of The Players Pub. “It was so drab and so dark,” Miller says of The Players Pub interior, and she told Hill she had an idea for a colorful mural to brighten things up.
Hill agreed to the idea of a mural but told Miller he couldn’t afford it. Undeterred, Miller promised to produce the painting and then lend it to the music venue.
Miller did a lot of research, sketching elements from the pub’s décor, such as Hill’s instrument collection and paintings on the pub’s walls, and taking note of the venue’s performers. Then, over seven weeks, she painted the acrylic-on-canvas work in her basement.
“A big, winding keyboard came from a small painting he had,” Miller says. “The upright bass was from an abstract painting. One person in the mural, [harmonica player] Doc Malone, came up to me and asked, ‘Is that me?’ I had tried to make him abstract, but he said, ‘I know my stance.’ I also put a little self-portrait in the very back.”
When Hill saw the final mural, Miller says, “He loved it.”
Miller installed the painting at The Players Pub on May 5, 2008. The 20-foot-long work bears a fittingly verbose title: Blue Skies Tango with Cobalt Ideas to Create the Rhythmic Mamba of Serendipitous Lost Puppy Love Whose Unheard Lyrics Swing the Night Away.
Miller approached Cynthia Brubaker about showing the work as part of the I Fell Gallery Walk exhibit. “We have enough space to display the whole mural,” Brubaker explains.
The I Fell has a Zone Arts Grant from the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association for jazz programs. Brubaker invited musicians who played at the pub to perform for the evening, including bassist Dave Bruker, guitarist Dave Gulyas, and others. Snacks and beer will be sold.
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