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Staff member creates murals, 3-D sidewalk art
Sept. 5, 2014
By day, Michael Macaulay works as manager of systems development and institutional research for the Community College of Rhode Island, crunching numbers that help the college better understand the needs of its students. But by night, weekend and sometimes vacations, he practices a different art form.
Macaulay is a self-taught artist, working mainly in paint and chalk, creating temporary public displays – stunning designs that he renders in chalk on streets for festivals and events in front of live audiences. But residents of the Ocean State will probably recognize some of Macaulay's more permanent work: He's the artist behind the 56-by-8-foot mural on Route 4 in North Kingstown that depicts the Patriots mightily bursting through the iconic Fenway Park scoreboard on the Green Monster.
That's just the tip of the iceberg, though; Macaulay has done custom work for some popular former Patriots including Adam Vinatieri, Tedy Bruschi and Matt Light and completed a mural to be used as a backdrop for the Patriots' Kraft Studio Productions for a show airing Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. during the football season on mytv38.
Macaulay said he has always loved to draw and paint – he minored in studio art in college – but it wasn't until a decade ago when his wife, Judi, began to push him to do more with his hobby. She bought him an artist's desk for Christmas, and it wasn't long before Macaulay had drawn what remains his most favorite piece: a colored pencil still life of his father's baseball jersey from his days playing Legion baseball in his youth.
Soon after, a financial adviser visiting his house saw Macaulay's work and introduced him to the owner of the sports memorabilia business that now has his Patriots/Green Monster mural on its building.
"The next thing I know, he hooked me up with Adam Vinatieri and I did a mural for him in his son's bedroom," said Macaulay.
Though Macaulay and his wife are busy raising their family, this hasn't stopped him from finding the time to refine his craft. This is particularly true with street painting, which he started in 2003 at a contest in East Greenwich. There, Macaulay chalked a two-dimensional sports-themed piece that got great feedback from the kids in attendance.
From that point, he said he was hooked, and started researching techniques to make the paintings more dynamic and three-dimensional. His work attracted the attention of an agent in New York City who has booked Macaulay for events all over New England as well as in New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Idaho, Florida and Tennessee.
"The most rewarding thing is the feedback that you get, especially with kids, because there's no filter. They tell you exactly how they feel about it. If I'm drawing a superhero on the ground, they freak out and get excited," he said.
Macaulay's street painting has taken him as far as the Caribbean island nation of Curacao, where he was booked to draw dolphins on the street as well as give classes for local children. When he was first approached for the gig, the humble artist initially thought it was his brother playing a practical joke on him, but soon found it to be a legitimate opportunity when he came home to an email from a local official who had been smitten with his work online. "We got to go down for a week," he said. "We had a wonderful time."
Last year, a detour on a family vacation to upstate New York took him, his family and hundreds of Buffalo residents through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole into a surreal three-dimensional landscape depicting a scene from "Alice in Wonderland" on a scale of 20 by 40 feet in size.
In February, he was tapped to do a painting of a sea monster breaking through the pavement for the Super Bowl's official media party, held at Chelsea Piers in New York. This summer, he's been busy closer to home, chalking at the fourth annual Hope Street Block Party in Providence, a fundraiser at Gillette Stadium and murals for the East Greenwich Little League, as well as its new official logo.
As he continues to accept work for custom murals and opportunities for street painting, Macaulay says he still looks to his wife, Judi, for support and feedback. "She's my toughest critic, but she's also my biggest fan," he said proudly, noting that Judi now helps him with some of his work, painting larger areas of the mural grids that don't need Macaulay's talent for detail.
Going forward, Macaulay said his dream job would be to paint something at Yankee Stadium. When asked if he found it hard to be a die-hard Yankee fan in Red Sox territory, he said he didn't have any trouble finding like-minded souls, after all.