New Orleans artist creates mural that can be seen from space

NEW ORLEANS - Artist John Bukaty sees murals everywhere, but most of them haven’t been painted yet.

While he specializes in live paintings at events around the world, Bukaty frequently passes public spaces that he thinks would be perfect for a large-scale art project.

That’s how he ended up painting a mural that can be seen from space.

Photo by John Bukaty

Bukaty parks in a garage across from his Carondelet Street studio, and he spent a year daydreaming about covering the space with art.

While some may have just seen a gravel-topped parking deck, Bukaty saw a canvas.

“Every time I parked up there, I went ‘man, this would be a cool place for a mural,’” he said.

By chance, Bukaty mentioned his impulse to a friend who happened to know the owner of the building.

After a quick phone call, the building’s owner agreed to the project, and Bukaty set to work.

He and a small team of assistants graphed out the mural, which stretches 130 feet by 100 feet, and filled in the image, which is based on an earlier painting of Bukaty’s.

It took about 10 hours and 10 gallons of paint to create the piece.

Since the project began around Mardi Gras 2017, the mural took on a Carnival theme, and the image of a woman wearing a Mardi Gras mask accented with a feather took shape.

Bukaty signed his name in two-foot letters, and the completed project was captured by Google Maps shortly after completion.

“It has dwindled out,” he said of the mural. “Google has the best picture of it, probably.”

While some versions of Google’s satellite view predate the painting, the version available on mobile devices still shows the artwork clearly.

“Everybody loves when they see it pop up on Google Maps,” Bukaty said. “They think it’s hilarious. I still get some feedback from it.”

The idea of a satellite snapping a picture of the mural from space never occurred to Bukaty while he was working on it.

Photo by John Bukaty

“I thought more about the airplanes passing over and maybe the helicopters filming the parades,” he said.

While the project was a one-off, Bukaty doesn’t rule out another huge project in the future.

“I didn’t really do it for people, I did the mural because I wanted to do something outlandishly big,” he said. “Every time I parked up there, I kind of got the same idea, over and over, and I just finally did it. There are a few walls in the city where every time I drive by I just think ‘I wish I could do a mural there.’ Every time I drive by I go ‘oh, there’s that mural again.’ Maybe one day.”