Q&A Sesh: Back to Bekky Beukes

Because how does an artist top doing a 90 ft. mural?

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Bekky Beukes is painting a name for herself around the Tampa Bay area, and especially so with her recent 90 x 20 ft mural that wraps around three walls on the flynest of the Rialto Theatre. Seeing the finish product, it may have seemed like a simple project, but it proved to be a challenge from the very beginning with hoisting the scaffolding up the side of the building, constantly changing the platforms due to the pitched roof, and did I mention that she and her team worked through a hurricane? Since finishing a milestone accomplishment, it seemed like a good time at the end of the year to catch up and see what 2017 holds for Beukes.

I also learned that I am not, in fact, afraid of heights.

Creative Loafing: Since you've just finished your biggest mural to date, you must be feeling pretty accomplished to get it done in only a few short weeks even through a hurricane. How do you feel now that it's finished? Do you think you would go even larger in the future?

Bekky Beukes: When I decided to do this project, I had no idea what it would entail, although almost two months later and it still hasn’t really sunk in. I drive past ‘the wall’ often and see my name and I’m almost surprised. The experience itself cannot be described in words. The aftereffect is everlasting, it wasn’t just painting a wall, it was a physical and emotional challenge and I am a different person because of it.

Yes I would go larger in the future, maybe paint suspended from a rope next time, haha. Going larger would not be the challenge after painting on a pitched roof 40 ft. off the ground, during a hurricane.

CL: What has the feedback been so far on the piece? Have you ever been walking down by your mural and see strangers looking or commenting on it?

BB: The feedback has been sensational, Austin McCurry documented this journey in film and I was beyond moved by the way he captured each "phase." The awkward, uncomfortable, overwhelming beginning, the frustration of paint being blown out of my hands during the hurricane and the end where I felt like a seasoned Madonna having raised 10 kids feeling like I could raise 10 more.

CL: Anything you felt that you learned about your work process or yourself from doing this piece?

BB: I learned a great deal throughout this experience. I have been sitting here, trying to think how to put what I learned in words… I learned about problem solving, about the value of support and good friends. I spent many hours up there alone, faced with this beautiful challenge and I experienced the full effect of the phrase, “Just keep swimming.” I also learned that I am not, in fact, afraid of heights.

CL: Besides murals, I know you are busy in your studio working on large-scale paintings. Are you prepping for any shows?

BB: I am preparing for two solo shows coming up this year. In May I’ll be showing at the Rialto, and in August I have a solo show at The Blue Goose. I also recently spent some time in New York, so will be exploring those opportunities this year.

CL: Now that you have this huge mural under your belt, what's next for you? Do you have any big projects coming up the New Year?

BB: Right now I am working towards building a new body of work. I’m always excited and nervous to begin a new collection. My challenge at the moment is to beat a 90 ft. wall. I paint to learn, to learn how to speak without words, to incite emotion in my audience. I paint to improve my technique and execution, I paint to find an answer, to feel scared, to feel anything and to share that emotion.

CL: Any goals or studio resolutions for 2017?

BB: This is a very long list, but simplified the general idea for all my goals are always do it better, be more, and find truth.

Keep up to date with Beukes’ work on her website: bekkybeukes.com or on Instagram: bekkybeukes.

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