Sekletar’s dream became a reality when the city of Amherst approved the project and a local attorney offered the side of his downtown office building as the backdrop for the mural. After more than 500 hours of work by Sekletar and fellow artist Ryan Shannon, the mural, spanning 700 square-feet of the brick and concrete exterior wall, was almost complete. The final step involved selecting a long-lasting finish to protect the work of art.
Because of the outdoor placement, the mural required a durable coating that would withstand seasonal temperature changes, sun exposure and wind-driven rain and snow. Another important consideration was the capability to protect against possible vandalism; an “anti-graffiti” coating was necessary to seal the mural.
Enter Michael Beltz, an account executive with Sherwin-Williams Diversified Brands. Beltz had been instrumental in securing product donations for the project, including Resilience Exterior Paint from The Sherwin-Williams Company, Purdy applicators and Georgina Artist’s Oil Colours from Winsor & Newton and Daler-Rowney. Beltz knew what type of coating was needed to protect the mural and approached The Stallings Group, the local Seal-Krete representative for help in securing a Seal-Krete product donation.
After consulting with Beltz on the project requirements, The Stallings Group recommended the artists seal the mural with Seal-Krete Dura-Shell Clear Coat, a durable two-part water-based urethane system that offers a high gloss finish in a low VOC formula. Seal-Krete agreed to donate the product.
“Seal-Krete’s Dura-Shell coating system is formulated for preservation and protection and will stand up to the performance requirements of the mural’s environment,” said Greg Stallings, owner of The Stalling Group. “Dura-Shell has a high tolerance for moisture and temperate extremes and also protects from graffiti and the potential wear of people touching the painted surface.”
Stallings also emphasized that one of the many reasons Dura-Shell was chosen for use over the mural is because the product doesn’t react to oil paint. “Unlike many concrete coatings, Dura-Shell can be applied to both oil and latex paints with no adverse reactions,” he said.
The artists were pleased with the results. According to Sekletar, “Dura-Shell was a great coating choice. It was easy to apply and provided the durable overlay I was looking for. It also produced a nice, aesthetic clear finish, adding the perfect final touch to the mural.”
The memorial mural was dedicated in a ceremony on Veteran's Day, 2011, with hundreds of community members and veterans in attendance. As the “Star-Spangled Banner” was played, Marine Corps members raised a flag over the memorial much like when the flag was raised at Iwo Jima. During the ceremony State Senator Gayle Manning honored the artists and the city. A 21-gun salute from the Amherst Military Honor Guard Marine Corps concluded the dedication.
A plaque placed on the mural by the artists reads, ‘We will never forget the courage, honor and sacrifice of the men and women who served our country for our freedom.’
“To be able to do something like this for our veterans is an honor and a privilege,” said Sekletar.