By Jessica Roberson, USAG Garmisch FMWRNovember 5, 2008
GARMISCH, Germany - The U.S. Army Garrison Garmisch Library staff celebrated the completion of artist Peter Brown's mural in the building's Teen Corner by inviting community youth over Oct. 24 for a "Meet the Muralist" afternoon session of questions and answers.
The special event, complete with homemade cookies and brownies, was the finish line of 50-plus long hours of work. The labor of love was completed with the goal of giving the teens a special place to relax and read with a unique, fun atmosphere that celebrated the arts and local environment.
The mural reflects the local landscape, with the summit of the Zugspitze in the foreground and man-made wonders: the Great Wall of China weaves its way across the 'canvas' between the pyramids of Egypt and the Statue of Liberty, all surrounded by a glowing Wetterstein sunrise.
It is a long journey from the hills of South Dakota, Brown's home state, to the mountains of Bavaria. Still, it is a journey that Brown was happy to make, bringing with him the desire to teach snowboarding and his lifelong enthusiasm for painting.
As a teenager, with his parents' permission, Brown's first mural was painted inside the walls of the family barn. He told the kids participating in the session that he quickly learned the importance of scale. Most importantly he learned the importance of ventilation when working with spray paint.
"I learned pretty quickly I had to keep the barn doors open," he said. From there, Brown soon found himself volunteering to paint a mural at his hometown library.
At the end of last year's ski season here, he approached library manager Ailien Patail, offering to paint a mural. Week after week, Garmisch kids wondered what the final product would look like. Moreover, they asked Brown for advice on how to start painting themselves.
"Find someplace legal," he laughed, explaining that his painting "career" began with graffiti. As a teenager in South Dakota, he had visions of painting on large canvasses on the scale of Michelangelo but had no space to experiment.
The teens pressed Peter about what inspired him. His answer: "I really admire Leonardo daVinci because he wasn't just a painter. He sculpted and was an inventor as well."
"And if I was going to suggest anything," he added, "I would say get yourself a sketch book and just draw your day; whatever you see that in the world that inspires you. Go home and put it on paper. After a while you'll find yourself building a portfolio."
Interesting art advice from a man who otherwise teaches snowboarding for his day job at the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, where visiting servicemembers and their families are surrounded by the same mountain vista now splashed across the library wall.
In fact, "I see the Zugspitze," said teen Calvin McGrail as he admired the mural.
The library staff, a small team of three, including Patail, Shellie Hanson and Jamie Davis, thanked Brown for his contribution. In response, Brown offered to extend the mural around the corner, with the teenagers offering him ideas on what to paint next.
There is more art located in what the Garmisch community and Installation Management Command call the Army's "Best Small Installation Library Recreation" for four years in a row. In addition to Brown's mural, different mediums of art by nearby artists are on display.