New Muralist Chris Wyrick Hits Home with Lenny Kravitz
In a mural collaboration with Lenny Kravitz that was featured in Architectural Digest, the latest addition to the B&A roster, muralist Chris Wyrick, headed to Lenny Kravitz's home to create a space that truly honors the artist.
From a young age, Chris Wyrick was immersed in a world of creativity. Having his father working as a museum director, Chris was brought up in a world that was filled with paintings, sculptures, and art. “I’m really interested in transforming space. I spend a lot of time outdoors, my love of surfing and things that take place in the outside world come into my work, and I’m really excited about using natural forms, exploring them in scale to change the perspective of them and people’s experience with them. Ultimately I’m like a little kid in a lot of my beliefs, I believe in heroes. I’m really obsessed with mystery and magic so I’m trying to bring more of that into the world.”
For their first collaboration, Chris arrived at Lenny’s home in Brazil and didn’t leave for the next 30 days. “It all started when the head of his design firm, Kirsten Mattila, was doing some work in LA, saw my murals, and asked me to come down to Lenny’s ranch in Brazil to paint the guest house. I worked with her to develop a palm themed pattern that had a camouflage feel to it. We went back and forth for quite a long time working on the palette and scale of the mural. When we got to a good place, they flew me down to Brazil and I got there just enough ahead of Lenny to do some tests on the wall to show him the scale of what we were thinking. It’s funny, I was supposed to go down there for ten days and even though the guest house was to be finished in that time, it was gonna be a stretch because it’s a really large interior. But when I landed they said, “you know Lenny saw some other things that you’ve done and he’s interested in you looking at his master bedroom suite and the media room in the house, and the project just grew from there.”
“I really first got started on the project one night. Lenny is a total night owl and he’s obsessive about spaces and interiors. He just gets into this sort of amazing manic place. It was about 11:00 at night and I was working in the guest house and he came over to borrow a paintbrush. He had this vision in the main house which at the time was all just white walls and he envisioned these big triangles there. He wanted to reach a clean, simple, African-inspired aesthetic. We painted until 3 AM and had created a series of different triangles snaking their way through the main hallway all through the house. It was an amazing experience.”
“There were so many influences and inspirations that he wanted to reference. In the bedroom, he wanted to stick with the natural theme but at the same time wanted a sequence and some of that grit, Andy Warhol-esque. He was very clear, he wanted a very masculine but delicate piece and it was my job to balance all these different things he was throwing at me. He had this incredibly beautiful vintage bed with a ray of warm pink to yellow to orange to brown colors that felt very 70s. The first iteration we tried the palms using the palette of his bed. I painted for about two days and he came in and he kept looking at it on and off and finally, he posed the question ‘Is this working?’,” explained Chris. “The next morning, there were some local painters that he had working on the house and they came in so quickly and painted over everything. It kind of took me back a little bit how fast it was removed. As soon as he realized it wasn’t working, it was just gone. And we immediately started again the following day. Collaborating is at the core of my work, but it’s usually on the front-end, talking about design, so to have this moment where we really connected in that place, over that space, was incredible.”
Alongside these unexpected magic moments, creating with Lenny Kravitz meant one thing for sure: they were listening to music throughout the process. “We listened to a lot of things, but mostly jazz. Lenny had a connection to Miles Davis when he was young, he got to meet Miles and see him perform. It was a really powerful influence on him. I think jazz is a way, way bigger influence on his music than a lot of people would realize. We both share a huge love of early fusion jazz from the 60s and 70s, the stuff that Miles was doing. If we weren’t listening to jazz, we were listening to Led Zeppelin, the Stones, a lot of heavy early rock.”
Where other projects have also had Chris on site for a month or longer, not all experiences have been as artistically immersive with other creatives, as this one. As if Chris’s experience at the Kravitz home wasn’t already a whirlwind experience, Lenny opened his home to his entire band to prepare for their soon-departing world tour. “I think one of the reasons that this project worked the way it did was because Lenny is such a real person, he’s completely authentic, it’s not a big show. He loves being around people and working with people. He creates a family situation, so in Brazil, we all ate lunch and dinner together, every day, around a big table. He had one of the heads of Kravitz Design there with me, and there was a rotating group of creatives. He invited friends of his like Rodney Burns of Church Boutique, LA and an artist named Noah Becker, there was a painter that lives in Berlin and he and his girlfriend came and painted on-site as well, and his biographer David Ritz came from LA. He had a couple of friends come to help with the Architectural Digest shoot, so it was a very interesting group of people. It really was this bonding moment where we all got to know each other in the creative process, and actually create.”
This was one of four collaborations for Chris with Lenny Kravitz, and he hopes it won’t be the last.