Record of his travels
He's chronicling his journey with his art. Every place he visits,
and most every experience he has, Waller puts down a pen and ink
on pages of his sketch pad.
The pages are taped together and folded up, accordion style. Stretched
out, Waller's mural is 148 feet long. His goal is to have the work
published as a coffee table book focusing on America's pop culture
icons and landmarks. But there is still more rambling to be done,
more scenes to document.
"Asan artist, you get an idea, you have to follow it through,"
said Waller, showing his art workat his brother's house on Bragg
Boulevard. "You don't know where it's going."
Waller's journey started in early 2000. Recently divorced, he had
gone to disney World in Orlando, Fla., with the idea of working
as a Disney artist.
Waller did some sketch work, but wasn't able to get permanent work
with the company. But it was during his trip to Orlando that he
came up with the idea for the cross - country trip.
Art for food
Selling and trading his art qork for food, shelter and rides on
the way, Waller made his first major stop in the Florida Keys, where
he visited Ernest Hemingway's house. Seeing the home of one famous
arthur inspired Waller to check out another, so he made as his next
goal to visit Bangor, Maine, home of steven King.
There was a lot of ground to cover between Florida and Maine, and
Waller expressed much of it in art. He cronicles his hitch hiking
experiences through Georgia and South Carolina, avisit to Fayetteville
in June 2000 and his trek up to east coast Maine.
In September 2000, Waller arrived in Bangor. He sat outside the
gate around King's house and drew the imposing, gothic - looking
Waller spent the winter in Worcester, Mass., working for a time
in a junkyard. When spring came, he traded a painting for a 1990
chevy Corsica and headed south.
Eventually, Waller was drawn to Graceland. He said officials there
let him sit near Elvis Presley's grave and sketch it.
Waller's work is done in a bright, cartoon style that resembles
that from underground comics in the 1960s. Acloseattention to detailis
evident on every page.
In the style of folk artists such as the late Howard Finster, Waller
writes snippets of thoughts, ideas and dialogue in the margins of
his drawings. In Atlanta during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks,
he wrote this: "It's the end of the world as we know it. Did
we grow closer to God?"
Waller appears as a character in many of his frames, usually as
a long - haired figure with a hitch hiking thumb out.
A stream of consciousness feeling runs through Waller's work. For
instance, he met an Italian man in his travels, which inspired him
to draw an homage to Michaelangelo. Rocking horses appear on some
of the pages, a tribute to Waller's late grandmother, Elva Folk,
who collected them.
Waller still has plenty of places he wants to visit and people
he wants to see. He wants to go to Las Vegas and Mount Rushmore,
meet radio shock - jock Howard Stern, and draw it all.
"I figure I'll be doing this for the next few years,"
In other words, this long strange trip is far from over.
~By Rodger Mullen, his column appears Sunday, Monday and Wednesday
in the The Fayetteville Observer.