Meeting W.B. Fontenot – The Man Behind the Mural at The Federal Bar

As, a blogger I get a lot of press releases coming my way. For the most part I skim them to see if they fit in with the blog and often they don’t. Every once in awhile I get one that intrigues me. Recently, I received one about a new mural called “The Communal Distraction from Evolution” that is about to be unveiled at The Federal Bar in Long Beach. This was the accompanying photo.

The Federal Bar
photo by W.B. Fontenot

I was curious.

So things started rolling and it was arranged for me to meet the artist, W.B. Fontenot, at The Federal Bar so we could discuss the mural and enjoy a meal on the house. The whole time I was thinking “What on earth is there to discuss? It’s a pretty basic image.” Well, turns out that’s not the entire mural. THIS is the entire mural.

The Federal Bar
photo by W.B. Fontenot

Ahhh, now I get it. Suffice to say, I was blown away when I saw it in person. So I sat with Mr. Fontenot and discussed “The Communal Distraction from Evolution.” Layers people. This mural HAS layers.

Let’s start with the basics. The mural took over 500 hours to make. It’s actually painted on wooden panels so it was created in Mr. Fontenot’s studio and then transported to the bar. Here’s a pic of the setup:

photo by W.B. Fontenot

And all the folks in suits? Well they are actually photographs. Mr. Fontenot had models pose as the various characters. The photos were then cut out, wheat paper was pasted over them, and they were painted – first with spray paint, then acrylics for depth.

The inspiration for the mural came from Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment.”  Many figures are direct homages to the great work of art. This struck a cord with me as I focused on Renaissance Art for my major in college.

And the symbolism? Well, there’s a whole lot of it. Since this is a blog post, I’m going to focus on a couple of excerpts.

photo by W.B. Fontenot

The center fella is holding a sign written in binary code. It reads: communication. The grey numbers read: isolate. The underlined numbers (hard to see, but they’re there) read: noise. As you can see the two guys next to him are communicating electronically. In fact, they’re communicating to each other. I think that says a lot about the way society works today.

Photo by W.B. Fontenot

The top two dudes are dumping binary code into the chap with the television for a head. The numbers on the screen read: “I am you, fame.” This is but a portion of a large image within the even larger mural. It deals with the state of celebrity today and the way people want to be famous just for being famous.

See what I mean about layers? Mr. Fontenot and I talked for an hour over dinner about the mural and we could have still talked some more. He’s a passionate artist and it really shows in this piece of work.

Speaking of dinner…I had never been to The Federal Bar before. This is one amazing restaurant. Absolutely stunning.

The Federal Bar

For my meal, I decided to go with the Federal Burger. I initially ordered fries but Mr. Fontenot suggested tater tots instead.

The burger was tasty but the tater tots? Whoa boy! Ah-mazing. They’ve got a glaze that’s a mixture of beer, maple syrup, and who knows what other goodness.

Overall, it was a great evening. Good food, great art, and deep conversation. Love it.

If you want to view the mural head on over to The Federal Bar for a meal. Or better yet, go there this Saturday, the 28th, for the unveiling. It’ll be from 5-9 and there will be food and drink and art, of course.

The Federal Bar
102 Pine Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous September 29, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    great painting great great food

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