Meg Wagler describes herself as a solopreneur. “It’s way more accurate I feel like than entrepreneur,” says Wagler, “because I’m not working with a brick and mortar shop and hiring a lot of employees and things like that, so it’s a little bit different of a landscape.” Expanding public art has been one of Wagler’s primary focuses, and last year she was approached by the Oasis Hotel and Convention Center and Revel Advertising to take on her biggest project yet. In conjunction with their site-wide renovations, Wagler was hired to create a towering poolside mural where color takes center stage.
417 Magazine: If you could describe your aesthetic in three words, what would you say?
Meg Wagler: Bold, colorful and vibrant.
417: How many different colors were used on that mural?
M.W.: I think it was around 30 different colors. This was actually the first project I did that was all spray, like spray cans. A lot of times I’ll mix or use different materials, but this whole piece was cans.
417: What were some of the ways that you went about tackling such a large-scale project?
M.W.: Since this was my largest project to date, I just broke it up into chunks basically. I use a technique called the doodle grid, which takes a little bit longer than using a projector. It looks like graffiti—I scribble all over the wall with little shapes and Xs and hearts and Os and then I take a photo of that and overlay it with my design so then I can sketch it in as I go.
417: What were some of the challenges that you faced with this project?
M.W.: Because it was a pool area, the surface is not even. So it was actually really difficult to get the right size lift in there that we needed. I had to be very careful and very alert so I didn’t fall into the pool and make sure the lift didn’t dip into the grates or holes for drainage or anything like that.
417: How do you feel public art like this benefits the community?
M.W.: As far as talent acquisition or talent retention, from an economic standpoint, it’s economically beneficial to have experiences like this so that people want to stay and feel excited and safe and be able to walk around the downtown area for example. From an artistic standpoint, the more that we build up the presence of public art, the more momentum that we gain as an arts community for grant funding and recruiting different ideas and folks who really have an innovative thumb and want to utilize the landscape 417 has, to build some of these ideas and opportunities.
417: So obviously you’ve been hard at work on this mural and then there is your project MIDxMIDWST, which is coming later this year. What are your thoughts on public art specifically in 417-land?
M.W.: Ultimately the goal is more quality, public art and doing it in a way that excites and involves the community. I think it is really important because it helps drive those placemaking efforts. When we think about where we call home, a lot of times it is public art that keeps resurfacing as how people describe where they live. A goal of MIDxMIDWST is to drive a collection of public art in a condensed area so we can build more immersive experiences like mural walks and alternative transit routes we’re proud to showcase as a city. Even the [murals] that are on the Fulbright trail, they're just these little moments of delight that people aren't expecting. All of those things add up to people just loving the 417 area and staying here and being proud of showing it off to other people.