CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charly Hamilton has painted hundreds of objects, large and small, in his long career, even a home or two during a stint as a housepainter before he hit his artistic stride.
Nothing, however, as big as his latest challenge -- a mural that will cover the side wall of a historic building on West Washington Street near the corner of Tennessee Avenue.
"I've painted billboards, but they were 14 by 26 [feet]," Hamilton said. "I did a mural in the country, 25 by 20. This will be the biggest one, 30 by 60."
The mural's target location is the east face of the 100-year-old brick building at 303 West Washington St., home not too long ago to Freeman's Restaurant. With no neighboring structures to block the view, it's a prime spot -- highly visible to motorists entering the Elk City district from downtown.
Owner Tighe Bullock had that in mind when he bought and restored the building last year.
"The idea is to increase pedestrian traffic," Bullock said. "We're trying to draw more people to the area. Charly's art -- you have to get up close to see the detail.
"About a year ago I power-washed the wall, repointed it and painted over it. I wanted to give it a year to see how it would hold up. I wanted to give Charly the best canvas he could possibly have."
Bullock's father, Gaddy Engineering owner John Bullock, wanted to make sure Hamilton got paid for his work, so he started rounding up backers. A pioneer in the revitalized Elk City district, John Bullock oversaw an extensive historic restoration of another building nearly across the street.
"My company and I put in $1,000," he said. Brooks McCabe, Lewis Payne and the First Bank of Charleston chipped in toward the goal of $6,000. "West Side Main Street agreed to close the gap, up to $3,000."
The Bullocks originally planned to raise all the money privately, Tighe Bullock said.
"After talking with [Main Street Director] Stephanie Johnson, we found there was some funding available. We just had to go through the proper channels."
Those channels included an appearance before the Municipal Beautification Commission, which has informal regulatory authority over outdoor art. The group gave its blessing last month.
That doesn't mean Hamilton will paint the exact design he showed the agency.
"I'm using the original painting as sort of the advertisement for [the final product]. It will be changed a little bit.