The demise of the Big Photo

Blognosticator Head

I knew when we put it up that the almost 60-foot-long panoramic photo of San Luis Obispo that I call the View from Daniel’s Point – would eventually come down.

John Cleek, the wallpaper expert who put it up, painted a lacquer base color on the wall back in early February. Then he glued the big photo to the wall using water-based wallpaper paste. The idea was that the photo would be removable with little difficulty when the time came.

That time arrived yesterday, the end of the 45-day run of my panoramic photo exhibition SLO PANO.

SLO PANO walk-through 26

Here is Daniel’s Point just a few minutes before we started to tear it off the wall at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. At 58 feet, 7 inches in width, it is almost certainly the largest photo ever exhibited in the city.

I had a small team of volunteers on hand to pull the photo off the wall, and it was not easy. We all approached the wall differently, some pulling the photo from the bottom, some from the top. The laminate came off of some of the photo, leaving bare paper still glued to the wall, and some of us pulled sections off more successfully. Big pieces were removed relatively easily, while other parts resisted removal.

Eventually we figured out a method for removing the troublesome parts. A spray bottle filled with warm water and a little dish soap was used to spray behind the photo paper. This dissolved the adhesive immediately, allowing the paper to be rolled easily off the wall. This worked very well, and with just a few hours more work, the wall was clean.

It looked lonely and naked.

Tearing down big photo 13

Here my young friends and Mikaela and Cruz are forcibly removing sections of the Big Photo. Most of it came off the wall fairly easily. Other parts were more difficult, requiring a spray of water to encourage the adhesive to release the paper from the wall.

But it was great while it lasted. The photos are all down now, and are being distributed here and there. Several of the big photos, and a few of the six-foot panos are being moved to the Arroyo Grande IOOF Hall for a two-month stay there. The pair of historic and modern San Luis Obispo photos are going up at a local business, and the rest have been moved into storage.

Tearing down big photo 04

Pieces of the photo lie on the floor of the museum. These would eventually be crushed into the trash bin in the right center. It was a sad end to a glorious photo.

SLO PANO was a tremendous success. On one day, March 7, there were over 700 people who visited the museum to see the photos.

Thank you to everyone who helped to mount the exhibition, to those who helped to take it down, and to the many, many people who visited during its run.

Tearing down big photo 15

This is the mostly-clean wall at the end of the evening. Just a few obstinate bits of the photo remained for the wall to be ready for the next show, which opens next Friday.

In the past few days I have passed a couple of new milestones. One is that readership of the Blognosticator has now exceeded 70,000, and the other is that I have begun walking without crutches. I can now navigate on my own legs, and that is quite an achievement for me. In January, and several times in between, I was worried that I would never walk again. But physical therapy, perseverance, and exercise have combined to give me mobility again. I can’t get very far on my own two feet yet, but I am pleased with my progress.

I’m going in for a new CAT scan in the coming days, and will get the results of that soon after. It will indicate whether my bones are healing correctly.

Meanwhile I have more physical therapy and more work to get my strength back, and to learn how to walk without a severe limp on my right leg.

Small steps.

About Brian Lawler

Brian Lawler is an Emeritus Professor of Graphic Communication at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and was a Guest Professor at Hochschule München from September, 2021 to September, 2022. He writes about graphic arts processes and technologies for various industry publications, and on his blog, The Blognosticator.
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