The Gold Dust Lounge -- which just opened its new Fisherman Wharf's digs this past February -- is about to reveal its new ceiling mural, chock full of Rubenesque cherubs and naked ladies.Gold Dust owner Nick Bovis is dropping nearly $20,000 on the new painting -- the third incarnation of the infamous mural -- which was first created in the 1950s. (Rumor has it that boozehound and consummated crooner Bing Crosby hired the original artists.) Bovis did yank the original canvas mural off the old Gold Dust Lounge incarnation at Union Square, but with the new bar nearly three times the size of the last location, it had to be scrapped. The bar then sought out an artist who could take on the large project, and found a candidate in budding muralist and Academy of Art student, Layla Skramstad. "One of my teachers at the Academy came to me and said 'there's a bar that wants to do a mural.' I took a look at the ceiling, I thought out the scaffolding and thought, 'you've done two murals at the school, go for it!'"
When they initially they described the project to me, they said they just wanted the original figures lightened up. You can't even see them -- it's too dark! And I was about a week into doing that when we realized the figures looked nice, but they still weren't bright enough."She says with a project this size -- 13' by 87' -- there are bound to setbacks and challenges. Skramstad is now (painstakingly) painting directly over the second canvas, trying to achieve the closest reproduction of 1950s original that she can. "It's closer to what my vision was too. I want to bring out all of the beautiful and vibrant colors or the original mural and figures, to bring new life to them, without sacrificing their original essence." While Skramstad is thrilled to take on the project -- "it's so unique and exciting!" -- the task is not for the faint of heart. Her hours (and position) are something out of a bawdy brothel. She's spent three months working six-hour nights five days a week from 2 to 8 a.m. while the bar is closed. On her back. She has to traverse scaffolding more than 10 feet off the ground as she wields her paints and brushes a la Michelangelo. "The main challenges that I face with this kind of project are the perspective," Skramstad explains. "It's difficult when you have that moment when you take a look from floor level, that [the painting] is not quite your intention. So it is important to keep going back and forth between ceiling level and floor level to achieve exactly the artist's vision of the each section." Skramstad is in the final throes of the project -- the bar is poised to unveil the new mural sometime in late August. "It's tough, but I'm nostalgic. It's like time pasts -- how hard the masters of the older centuries really committed themselves to their artwork."