(Original article in the Auburn Journal Newspaper Nov. 3, 2015)
Brian Fries is a software developer and web designer whose need to get his hands dirty led him to this week’s appointment to the Auburn Arts Commission.
“Professionally, my work is all very much in my head,” the ceramicist said. “Clay (is) physical ... It’s a change of pace from day-to-day life.”
The Auburn resident doesn’t have much time for his own art work these days, though, as he’s currently putting all of his energy into the installation of a 625 square-foot mural at the community garden behind the police department near School Park Preserve.
This summer, the artist’s wife, Katy Fries, who’s also on the Arts Commission, visited children all over the area and helped the kids create 1,000 tiles for the mural.
Now, Brian Fries has taken on the work of putting it all together.
“He’s learned how to do the tiling,” Katy Fries said. “He’s slapping the goo on the wall … It’s going to be a hidden gem.”
That’s exactly the idea, Brian Fries said. Visitors tend to come to Auburn for Old Town and leave, but he hopes to lead them down a tempting path of artwork that takes tourists to midtown, downtown and everywhere.
“Brian’s got this can-do positive attitude,” said Michael Murphy, designer of the community mural. “He keeps on working when everyone else slows down. He leads by doing.”
For example, one evening when the sun went down, and it became too dark to see the mural, Murphy said, Brian Fries pulled his car around and turned on the headlights so he could continue working.
The artist’s computer skills are solid, too, and Fries will use those to improve the organization’s website and help bring more even people to Auburn. “We want art to be a tourism focus for the region,” he said.