A Mural For the Rio Coco Café


Mike and Laura Bagby were given the opportunity to expand into the storefront adjacent to their Rio Coco Café in downtown Vero Beach. Their space was tiny and the adjacent one--the corner storefront in the historic Pocahontas Building at Vero's principal intersection--was large, airy, and light. The Café was booming and the other business, a clothing boutique, was failing. The Bagby's believed God was moving and agreed to the lease, then promptly got stuck in lockdown on Maui. In June, Mike asked me to paint a mural of a village scene, saying they had set a goal for a September 1 opening of the new addition. Nutie and I, meanwhile, were leaving Vero for an extended galavant around the United States on July 9th and wouldn't be back until a few days before the proposed opening. The window was going to be tight. I was reluctant, unsure of myself, but both Nutie and Mike, who were brimming with confidence in my artistic abilities, insisted I could do it. The only other mural I had ever painted was the one in our private home in Waspam, and I had never really finished it. No pressure.

I had recently been "diagnosed" as an Enneagram 5w4. What that means is that I don't like to take on responsibilities. I always feel overwhelmed in life, fearful of being found incompetent. Enneagram 5's like to live minimally, travel light, leave a small footprint. Tiny homes types. The wing 4 aspect means that I don't like to be confined to categories (like Enneagram boxes), love to create, and need my expression to be unique.

The Holy Spirit told me to do the mural already. "They call me the Helper," He said. "I will help you." I accepted the challenge.  

I watched a couple of Youtube tutorials about how to paint a mural in one day. Most of them presented fast-motion, time-lapse action clips of the artists zipping along, making it look easy. Painting made-up scenes with generic trees and landscapes--no human figures. I watched some more tutorials on how to mix skin tones for different ethnicities. Someone painting a portrait of Morgan Freeman and Bill Murray from photographs. I got up the nerve and began.

Three weeks into the project, it was time to drive to the West Coast. The mural looked like this:


When we returned at the end of August, we found that the opening date had been pushed back. Mike and Laura had just returned from Maui. There was a lot of remodeling to be done in order to join the two storefronts. 

While Nutie got busy painting walls, tables, and chairs in the new space, I watched some more Youtube tutorials and applied what I learned to the section of wall that would be the centerpiece of the new coffeehouse. Each day I grew in confidence. Nutie cleaned up my brushes and put the lids back on my paints. Her mere presence in the room felt like she was the Holy Spirit-commissioned ambassador. People began wandering in and staring. They thought I was some professional artist. I almost went out and got myself a beret and a striped shirt.

When the guys came in and began laying down the floor, it was time for me to finish up. That too was the Lord, because otherwise I probably would have fudged around till I ruined it. I signed my initials in the lower right-hand corner and we packed our bags for Philadelphia, where our grandson, Thomas Kli Keogh was born on Sunday, September 20th. The Café officially opened on the 21st.




Tangwi and her baby brother, Kli 

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